Downed Russian Fighter Jet
It is unknown if the United States provided the Turkish air force with Russian coordinates and other information about the routes and timing of bombing sorties in search of ISIS, but the Russian government has certainly made that charge, which would mean that Obama was risking a dramatic escalation of tensions between the U.S. and Russia in order to show his disdain for Russia and to protect ISIS, even if it meant playing high-altitude chicken with Putin.
Whether true or not, the Turkish military claimed that the Russians violated their airspace, sent warplanes after the Russian planes, and shot down two pilots, with one of them killed by ground forces as he parachuted to the ground. This gave Russia the further excuse to move a battery of their feared S-400 anti-aircraft system that has a range of up to 250 miles into a strategic area in Syria, which means it could reach aircraft flying over Syria, Iraq, Turkey and as far away as Cyprus where English RAF jets are stationed. Of course that seems quite unnecessary given the fact that ISIS does not have aircraft, so the net result is that Russia now has some serious firepower in an area that they did not have before.
The event continues to evoke threats and counter-threats, charges and denials, with Turkey now saying they were unaware that the jets encroaching in their air space were Russian craft, a scenario that is highly unlikely, and Washington is also denying it supplied Turkey with military intel about the flights, a claim that is equally implausible.
A defense source said: ‘This is posturing by the Russians. I imagine they will angle the system to where they perceive there to be enemy aircraft, in this case it will most likely be the Turks.’
Russians were advised not to travel to Turkey, with Mr Putin warning they ‘could be exposed to considerable danger’.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has spoken with his Russian counterpart to urge for calm and dialogue between Turkey and Russia.
In a telephone call, Mr Kerry ‘also stressed the need for both sides not to allow this incident to escalate tensions between their two countries or in Syria’.
It now becomes important to wrest the fight against ISIS away from the Russians, and Obama has suggested that the U.S. will be supplying some ground troops to the effort, but not into actual combat activities, so it still remains for others to pick up the leadership role. English Prime Minister David Cameron has now presented a case to Parliament to urge support for military intervention into Syria to counter the threat posed by the ISIS fanatics. The RAF has been conducting air strikes against ISIS in Iraq since September of last year. In the meantime, it is hard to know what Obama will do and where his sympathies actually lie. The one thing that is certain is that U.S. stature and prestige on the international stage has been greatly diminished by this president.