UPDATE 24/11/2015: A Russian jet has been shot down by Turkish F-16s after allegedly violating Turkish airspace. Russia denies the plane was outside Syrian territory, and President Vladimir Putin has warned of ‘serious consequences’ and said that NATO should not become a tool of ISIL militants.
Turkey is a NATO Member State, and has requested an extraordinary meeting with other members of the alliance to discuss the situation. The fate of the two pilots is unclear, but unconfirmed reports suggest that one or both may have been killed.
The incident will raise questions about whether better coordination is needed between the various air campaigns taking place in the region. Analysts have warned, for example, of the possibility of a collision or altercation between Russian and US-led coalition airplanes. What should NATO do to de-escalate the situation in the short-term, and prevent something similar happening again over the long-term?
ORIGINAL 10/08/2015: The Russian bombing campaign in Syria is potentially a game-changer. The regime of Bashar al-Assad had come under serious pressure earlier this year, with a string of rebel gains in the north and south of the country. However, Russia’s intervention (almost exclusively targeting non-ISIS, anti-Assad rebels north of Homs) sends a clear signal that the Kremlin will not allow Syrian government forces to collapse.
NATO defence ministers are meeting in Brussels today to discuss their reaction to Moscow’s latest play. Turkey, a NATO Member State, has recently made allegations that Russian jets have violated its airspace, and will seek reassurances that it has the full support of the rest of NATO. In addition, Baltic Member States remain concerned about Russian involvement in eastern Ukraine.
The possibility of a collision or similar accident between Russian and US-led coalition airplanes over Syria is now very real. How can NATO react without escalating the conflict?
How should NATO respond to Russian bombing in Syria? Will Russian bombs and cruise missiles be enough to prevent the collapse of the al-Assad regime? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!