I doubt I need to tell you that it’s an incredibly dangerous development that a jet fighter of a NATO member country, Turkey, appears to have shot down a Russian fighter jet operating over a sliver of Turkish territory on the Syria-Turkey border. Allegedly. (
Happily for all involved, the pilots appear to have ejected safely from the plane.) It is well worth asking what exactly the Turks were thinking and how far this decision went up the chain of command in Turkey. That said, what’s not getting a huge amount of attention is that Turkish and Russian jet fighters got into a dog fight or an aerial confrontation of some sort and the Russian fighter got shot down. Maybe that’s random chance. But I doubt it.
For all the worry and Putin worship we see today, what I find most worrisome about the Russians is that I strongly suspect their readiness, expertise at military craft, hardware etc are all basically third rate. That means that when they get into confrontations with first rate military powers – the US and NATO signatories, for instance – they’ll likely embarrass themselves. That’s great in nationalistic terms and as comeuppance for the destructive and reckless actions Russia has been taking in recent years. But it also means, they’ll be driven to save face – especially given how much nationalistic resurgence and cult of personality is central to Putin’s rule. And that is especially dangerous.