Another twist to the multi-faceted war in Syria took place this morning along the Turkey-Syria border. A Russian warplane was shot down by Turkish F-16 fighter jets after being repeatedly warned to exit Turkish airspace.
Russian President Vladimir Putin described it as a “stab in the back” by a business partner, accusing Turkey of supporting the so-called Islamic State. President Obama says Turkey has a right to defend itself and its territory, but urged Ankara and Moscow to avoid any escalation. Obama starkly outlined the distinction between U.S. and Russian efforts against IS: “We’ve got a coalition of 65 countries … Russia right now has a coalition of two: Iran and Russia, supporting Assad.”
Standing next to Obama at that moment was French President François Hollande. Their conversation will shape the conversation Hollande will have with Putin in Moscow later this week. And that conversation will impact the next moves on what has become a crowded battlefield.
Will This Russia-Turkey Business Get Out of Control?
Daniel W. Drezner – Washington Post
So will this business get out of control?
Obviously, it could — but I don’t believe it will. For one thing, Russia and Turkey are sufficiently interdependent that a serious heightening of tensions would severely impair both countries. Turkey would find it very difficult to suddenly stop using Russian natural gas. Russia would find it very difficult to not use the Dardanelles.
On the military side of the equation, as strategically reckless as Vladimir Putin has been, I suspect he would not want to escalate this conflict. Doing so would involve NATO, not just Turkey, and I doubt that Putin wants to get into a war of attrition that would grind away Russia’s air force.
Russia to Blame for Violating Turkish Airspace
Kori Schake – Politico
Let’s be clear: Russia is to blame for the military incident in which Turkey shot down a Russian plane. The Russian plane was in Turkish airspace — and not for the first time. Turkey has been complaining to the Russians, since the inception of Russian operations in Syria, that Russian forces are not respecting Turkey’s sovereignty. Moreover, the Russian plane failed to respond to 10 warnings issued by the Turkish military to depart Turkish airspace — and the U.S. military has validated that those warnings occurred.
Where this will get sticky is that Syrian rebels evidently killed the Russian pilots, both of whom survived the crash. There is nothing inherently wrong with that — they are fighting a war, the pilots are combatants, and Russia is fighting on the other side. But it will surely enrage Putin.
It will also enrage Putin that Syrian rebels are claiming to have shot down a Russian helicopter in Syria today — and this one by Syrian rebels using American-supplied weapons. If true, it would reawaken Russia’s unhappy experience in Afghanistan.
President Obama reacts to Turkey’s shoot-down of a Russian warplane during a news conference with French President Hollande
Why Allies and Adversaries Should Unite to Defeat ISIS
Patrick Smith – The Fiscal Times
Suddenly, the civilized world has one thing on its mind — an alliance among key nations to fight ISIS. No one is talking about containment anymore. The topic is decisive defeat on Syrian and Iraqi battlefields and anywhere else terrorists are identified.
Three questions arise. One: Is such an alliance necessary in the post-Paris environment, or does it fall into the “nice ideas” file? Two: Is forming an alliance practical? What are the impediments?
Finally, and largest of all, could an alliance against ISIS produce consequences beyond Syria?