Soon after Turkey shot down the Russian Sukhoi Su-24 fighter jet in Syria last month, Russia considered declaring war on Turkey. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said on a TV program that the Turkish Air Force had given Moscow every reason to start a war, but the Kremlin chose not to respond symmetrically. The Nov.24 incident resulted in the death of a Russian pilot while another pilot was rescued in an operation by Russian special forces.
Turkey’s action was a ‘direct assault’ on a foreign state
Medvedev said the 20th century countries would have responded to a similar situation by declaring war. What Turkey did was a “direct assault” on a foreign state. In the current geopolitical scenario, war is the worst option on the table. That’s why Moscow chose not to give a symmetric response to what the Turks had done. But Russia made sure that the Turks understood they were going to be held responsible for the attack.
Russian President Vladimir Putin had accused Ankara of “stabbing in the back” of Moscow. He had warned Turkey that it would have to face “serious consequences.” Putin has imposed economic sanctions against Turkey, and terminated all military cooperation with the country. The Russian sanctions are estimated to cost Ankara $9 billion a year, according to Turkey’s deputy prime minister Mehmet Simsek. The Kremlin has also alleged and provided proof that Turkey has been funding the Islamic State.
Russia sends attacks helicopters near Turkish border
Turkey maintains that it had warned the Russian jet, and shot it down only after it entered the Turkish airspace. But the plane, as well as pilots who ejected safely, fell in Syria. Moscow says the fighter jet didn’t violate Turkish airspace, and neither did it pose any threat to Ankara. Russian air force has been conducting air strikes against the Islamic State in Syria since Sept.30.
After the downing of its jet, Russia has deployed a guided-missile destroyer called Moskva off Latakia coast to provide aerial cover to its warplanes. Moscow has also stationed a Kilo-class submarine with cruise missiles, and its S-400 Triumf air defense systems in Syria. What’s more, Russia has stationed several attack helicopters at its Armenian military base near the border with Turkey.