NATO Member Turkey Downs Russian Su-24 Bomber; Russian General Staff Responds with New Measures
For the first time since WWII and the creation of NATO, a Russian military aircraft was shot down by war planes of a NATO country. Early today, two Turkish F-16s downed a Russian SU-24 returning to its home base in Latakia after a bombing run against terrorists in Syria near the Turkish border, charging that the Russian plane had violated Turkish airspace, had received 10 warnings over a 5-minute period, and was finally shot down. Over the course of the day the Turkish version was modified to report that it had been two Russian planes, not one, and that they had been in Turkish airspace a total of 17 seconds. Turkey immediately called an emergency NATO meeting today to discuss the incident.
The Russian government denied that their fighter-bombers had entered Turkish airspace, and later in the day produced radar-based videos to prove the point. Rather, the Turkish planes had violated Syrian airspace to make the kill, the Russian Defense Ministry announced.
Both Russian pilots ejected from their damaged plane, and one was machine-gunned to death by terrorist fighters on Syrian soil, as he descended in his parachute. A Russian rescue helicopter sent for the two downed pilots was then attacked by those terrorists, using TOW missiles provided by the Obama government in Washington. They damaged the helicopter, killing one serviceman on board, and apparently forced it to land in government-controlled territory inside Syria.
The Russian General Staff responded quickly, issuing a statement this morning stating it has suspended all military cooperation with Turkey, as the downing of the Russian bomber was "a flagrant violation of international law with extremely grave consequences, and a direct breach of the Memorandum on air-incident prevention [deconfliction--ed] and flight safety over the Syrian Arab Republic, which had been signed by the USA and is relevant for all countries of the anti-terrorist coalition, including Turkey."
General Sergei Rudskoy, chief of the Main Operations Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Force, this evening announced a series of new security measures to go into place immediately. These include deployment of the Moskva warship, equipped with `Fort' air-defense systems, similar to the S-300, to the coastal region off Latakia in Syria, where Russia has a large base. In addition, from now on, all bomber missions against the Islamic State and other terrorists will be accompanied by fighter jets. "We warn," Gen. Rudskoy stated, "that all targets representing a potential danger to us, will be destroyed." The General Staff officer also announced that Russia's military-to-military contacts with Turkey have been suspended.
At the same time, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, announced the cancellation of his planned trip to Istanbul to meet with his Turkish counterpart, scheduled for tomorrow. According to RT, Lavrov also warned of the increasing level of terror threat in Turkey, which, he said, "is not lower than in Egypt," and recommended that Russians not travel to Turkey for tourism or any other reason.
"It is necessary to emphasize that the terror threats with their roots in Turkey, have been aggravated," he stated. "And that's true even if we don't take into account what happened today."