VodkaPundit

Turks Down Russian Plane [UPDATES]

This handout photo released by the Russian Defense Ministry official web site shows a Russian Su-24 bomber taking off on a night combat mission from Hemeimeem airbase in Syria, late Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015. Russian jets regularly hit targets at night, a capability the Russian air force lacked until recently. (Vadim Savitsky/Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)

UPDATE 0902 Mountain

Pentagon confirms Ankara’s claim that the Russian bomber had been warned to leave Turkish airspace:

A U.S. military spokesman confirmed that Turkey warned the Russian pilots repeatedly before shoot down, but they did not respond, Reuters news agency reported.

“We were able to hear everything that was going on, these (communications) were on open channels,” military spokesman Colonel Steve Warren said.

Asked if he could confirm reports 10 warnings were issued by Turkish pilots without response, Warren said: “I can confirm that, yes.” He added it was not immediately clear on which side of the Turkish-Syrian border the Russian jet had been flying.

This is the same Steve Warren mentioned in my previous update. I’m tying to square this statement with “This is purely action that took place between Russians and Turkey,” but it just isn’t working. The second statement isn’t the kind of thing you say — appearing to leave a treaty ally out in the cold when it still isn’t known if the Russians had invaded Turkish airspace.

Again, I hope I’m reading too much into this.

UPDATE 0839 Mountain

I hope I’m reading too much into Warren’s statement, but if I’m not then it may be the most worrying development we’ve seen all morning.

UPDATE 0710 Mountain

The payback’s going to be a bitch.

UPDATE

The Lifenews pravda is changing already:

MORE

I wrote below that “wars don’t start over the loss of a single jet,” and it doesn’t seem likely one will begin now over one. It seems much more likely Putin is looking for a propaganda win, and to test NATO’s resolve. If Turkey can be forced to back off in Syria, Putin looks like the stronger horse and puts a big dent in NATO’s southern flank.

Or NATO mans up and we return, more or less, to the messy status quo that existed before the shootdown.

I’m betting on the latter, but I’m not betting the rent money.

[Original post below]

Here’s the big newsflash:

Turkey shot down a Russian warplane Tuesday, claiming it had violated Turkish airspace and ignored repeated warnings. Russia denied that the plane crossed the Syrian border into Turkish skies.

“We are looking into the circumstances of the crash of the Russian jet,” Russia’s Defense Ministry said. “The Ministry of Defense would like to stress that the plane was over the Syrian territory throughout the flight.”

Russia said the Su-24 [Russia’s answer to the F-111] was downed by artillery fire, but Turkey claimed that its F-16s fired on the Russian plane after it ignored several warnings. The ministry said the pilots parachuted but added that Moscow had no further contact with them.

Video footage of the incident showed a warplane on fire before crashing on a hill and two crew members apparently parachuting safely.

Turkey’s private Dogan news agency said two Russian helicopters, flying low over the Turkmen Bayirbucak region, searched for the two pilots.

A Turkish military statement said the plane entered Turkish airspace over the town of Yayladagi, in Hatay province.

But here’s what they’re saying in Russia’s Lifenews, complete with some Google Translate oddities:

Russian military space forces suffered the first loss in Syria. He was hit by our frontline Su-24 bomber crew who perform combat mission near the Turkish border.

According to the preliminary version of the Russian Defense Ministry, the plane was attacked from the ground. Experts immediately linked the incident to the recent reports on the supply of terrorists LIH modified literal anti-aircraft missiles from Ukraine on orders from Washington. Immediately it should be noted that man-portable air defense systems at an altitude of six thousand meters, which was our winged submarine, the goal can not be hit. It turns out that if it is confirmed that the submarine was still attacked from the ground, so the bandits worked Ukrainian SAM.

(H/T, John Schindler.)

My Russian is nonexistent, so I don’t know what word or idiom Google Translate would have mistaken for “submarine,” but there’s no doubt what line Moscow is taking at this early stage in the shootdown crisis. Moscow wants to blame the loss of their Su-24 on Ukrainian missiles, operated at Washington’s behest by anti-Assad rebels.

That’s three of Putin’s boogeymen, all involved in shooting down one Russian warplane. This, just two weeks after reports of renewed Russian aggression in Ukraine. If nothing else, this Lifenews report offers a disturbing glimpse at how Putin is playing this one for his domestic audience.

NATO has called for an “extraordinary meeting,” so it seems certain that alliance members aren’t taking Russian claims seriously. It also seems certain they’ll at least discuss invoking Article 5, which “commits each member state to consider an armed attack against one member state to be an armed attack against them all.”

Wars don’t start over the loss of a single jet, but the risk is considerably higher this morning — and hopefully a firm NATO response will force the Kremlin to reconsider how far to push this one incident.

UPDATE: On the other hand…