News BlogAviationGulf Middle East

Incident between Turkey and Russia. NATO meets urgently

(credit: CNN Turk)
(credit: CNN Turk)

(B2) The North Atlantic Council (NAC) meets urgently this Tuesday (November 24) at 17 p.m. It was seized by Turkey in order to inform the allies about the incident that occurred this morning. This morning, two Turkish F-16s shot down a Sukhoi Su-24 (*) plane from the Russian Syrian Air Group which had violated Turkish territorial space bordering Syria. Both pilots were able to eject. But their fate is still uncertain (one of the parachutes could have caught fire).

An ill-chosen moment

This affair comes at a key moment when both Paris and Washington are seeking to strengthen cooperation with Moscow in Syria to combat the Islamic State organization (Daesh). Provocations from both sides are not excluded.

On the one hand, violations of Turkish airspace are not uncommon by the Russian aviation. This regularly “tests” the Turkish defense. Was the test “positive” this time. In any case, on the Turkish side, it is claimed that summons were made by Turkish planes and remained unanswered. While on the Russian defense side, it is claimed that the plane was “ exclusively above the territory of Syria (…) at 6.000 meters above sea level " and that the plane was visibly shot down " coming from the ground ". Note that the downed plane hit the ground on the Syrian side.

On the other hand, it is certain that Russian intervention disrupts Ankara's plans in the region. Turkey also intends to protect Turkmen rebels fighting across the border in Syria. Shooting down a plane is normally a final phase of aerial surveillance. An extreme measure, it is normally only taken in the event of a proven risk and not for a simple territorial violation, which usually gives rise to more traditional measures: visual signals, radios, remote monitoring, flanking fire.

No article 4?

It can be noted that, for the moment, Turkey has been careful not to invoke Article 4 (opening of formal consultations) on the NATO side, as in previous incidents of an identical nature (1). At the same time, she summoned the Russian ambassador to the Turkish capital. Ordinary procedure in the event of an incident between two countries. Which could demonstrate – an Alliance diplomat told us – the desire not to exacerbate tensions. The meeting itself could therefore not result in a declaration from the Alliance as such (of the 28 member states). But just from a statement from the organization's secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg. Which would have the effect of not committing, as such, NATO.

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

Lire: Turkey wants to inform its allies about the action against the Islamic State

(*) Devices also present in the Syrian army

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).