(RFE/RL) Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says his country does not want an escalation in tensions with Russia after its jets shot down a Russian Su-24 warplane that Ankara said had strayed into its airspace close to the Syrian border. One of the pilots was killed — possibly by a Syrian rebel group operating in the area — a loss Russian President Vladimir Putin called a "stab in the back."
To help understand the significance of the events, and what they mean going forward, we asked some of the world’s leading military experts and analysts to weigh in.
[Comments from: Dmitry Gorenburg, Edward Lucas, Alexander Clarkson, Mark Galeotti, Kyle Frese, Gustav Gressel, Alex Kokcharov, Yury Barmin, Anna Borshchevskaya, Matthew Rojansky, Michael Kofman, and Michael Stephens.]
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Dmitry Gorenburg, Davis Center at Harvard University:
"What’s clear to me is that this comes at a time just after the downing of the Russian commercial airliner [over Egypt] and the Paris attacks, when there’s been a lot of talk of forming a coalition or alliance against Daesh (the Islamic State militant group). All these countries were supposed to start working together, but it’s pretty clear to me that the differing interests of the countries involved make that a difficult proposition now."
"From Erdogan’s point of view, he’s defended his borders, so he doesn’t look weak. Now the question is: How does Putin play this to prevent humiliation at home?"
"My guess is that people in various NATO capitals are trying to work out what the response should be and we’ll get a better sense of where this goes in the next 48 hours. There will be a lot of statements and perhaps some retaliation in the economic sphere, and maybe some sort of response where you see a Turkish aircraft gets shot at if it comes near a Russian base or something like that. This could be a single event that becomes an indicator of what’s to come."
"Part of the problem is that there was a lot of effort put into deconfliction between the U.S. and Russia when the Russians started intervening in Syria, but they sort of ignored everyone else and figured the U.S. would deal with it. Now you have a problem where you have two leaders of similar ilk who have the need to portray themselves as ultimate patriots, so we’ll see what kinds of problems could arise."
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