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RUSI experts offered their responses to the downing of a Russian jet by the Turkish military on 24 November 2015.

The Pot Boils Over

Michael Stephens, Research Fellow for Middle East Studies at RUSI, argues the shooting will have serious consequences for Russo-Turkish relations, relations between NATO and Russia, and the ongoing conflict in Syria.

While both sides are using harsh language to describe conflicting versions of events, it is in the best interests of NATO to ensure the incident does not escalate to involve any other member of the alliance.

It is vitally important that the downing of the Russian jet does not distract from the most important priorities in creating a new political settlement for Syria: removing the regime and defeating Daesh.

Of Falcons and Fencers

Justin Bronk, Research Analyst in Military Sciences at RUSI, says the downing of the Russian jet represents a critical escalation of Russia’s confrontational relations with the West which erupted following the Maidan revolution in Ukraine in 2014. 

However, the behaviour of both sides is not surprising. Russia has a history of intimidation through military probing and aggression supported by implausible official denials and explanations, including in the Ukraine conflict; while Turkey has previously used lethal force to respond to incursions by Syrian military aircraft.

Although Russia will protest innocence, NATO must be seen to stand by its Turkish ally if, as seems likely, it is proven that Ankara’s claims about acting in defence of its own airspace are true.


Watch Michael Stephens and Dr Igor Sutyagin dissect Russia's air campaign against Daesh here

*Header image courtesy of Anadolu Agency

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