Social media and many not-so-reliable news outlets are running the headline that an aircraft, which many claim was Russian, was shot down after it crossed into Turkish airspace. At this point in time, aside from some Twitter users who supposedly witnessed something exploding near the border, we cannot corroborate these reports and they are more likely wrong than right.
Just one of many similar tweets today, note Russia has no MiG-29s in Syria, although Syria has a handful MiG-29s:
It is true that Russia has strayed into Turkish airspace on multiple occasions since their bombing operations began in Syria. Additionally, a MiG-29 Fulcrum, which likely belonged to the Assad regime, locked up a group of Turkish F-16s, flying on their own side of the border, with its fire control radar for almost six minutes. These are hardly friendly actions to Syria’s neighbor to the north, and a NATO member. Not only that, but they clearly were not by accident regardless of what Russia claims.
So what is going on here? Is Moscow trying to bait Turkey into attempting to shoot down one of their fighters or attack jets, or at least some type of aircraft? Like so much of Russia’s game plan in Syria, it is unclear at this time. If in fact a Russian jet was shot down in Turkish airspace, it would mark the first NATO-Russia direct aggression in many years. It could also open up a Pandora’s Box of outcomes that we have not openly contemplated since the Cold War.
Still, we have to underline that there is a better chance than not that this is some misunderstanding, or a rumor run amok as they do in times of high tensions and war. One that featured such a juicy headline, that many outlets just had to bite without being skeptical. Since this conflict mutated via Russia’s direct military involvement, even more outlandish reports have made their way to widely distributed news outlets. These have included some ridiculous claims, including the supposed deployment of a Russian Typhoon Class nuclear ballistic submarine to Syria’s coast to China’s only aircraft carrier being docked in the Russian-controlled Syrian port of Tartus.
Regardless of the validity of today’s shoot down reports, this little exercise really illustrates just how volatile things have become between Vladimir Putin’s Russia and much of the West. It could be argued that Putin appears to be trying to make an incident of some sort occur. If it comes to point where any logical person would come to that conclusion, that a Cold War-like incident is part of the Putin’s plan, then we are in for a much rockier road than ever imagined.
We will keep you updated as this story unfolds.
Contact the author Tyler@Jalopnik.com
Photo credits: Top shot via Aleksander Markin/wikicommons, others via AP