MOSCOW - Turkey's shooting down of a Russian military jet along its border with Syria, which Russian President Vladimir Putin called "a stab in the back from terrorist accomplices,” raises concerns of possible retaliation from Moscow.
Turkey said the Russian bomber entered its airspace Tuesday and ignored 10 warnings before it was shot down. Russia denied the warplane crossed the border.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said, "Everybody should know we would make every sacrifice and take every precaution when our country is surrounded by a circle of flames and the safety of our borders and the lives of our citizens are at risk.”
Turkish officials have complained that Russia bombed rebel Turkmen villages in the border area to support its ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. But the Russians, said Alexander Baunov of the Carnegie Moscow Center, behave as if everyone in Syria who is not associated with Assad is to be considered a terrorist.
Russia also said that a search-and-rescue helicopter sent to the area was shot down, apparently by Turkmen rebels.
While Turkey’s military actions send a clear message, they are risky and may have consequences.
"Trade with Russia and Russian tourism is very important," Baunov said. "I do not know if official sanctions are considered, but Russian politicians are masters of unofficial sanctions.”
Russia is not likely to respond militarily against Turkey, since it is a member of NATO, the Western military alliance. NATO expressed solidarity with Turkey and called for calm and de-escalation.