Today we are only a few miscalculations and missteps away from a nuclear world war: fewer than ever since the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Last week Turkey shot down a Russian military plane over Syria. Turkish-backed fighters on the ground then executed one of the parachuting crew members. The militants also shot down a responding Russian rescue helicopter with a US-supplied anti-tank missile, killing a Russian marine.
Turkey justified the shootdown with allegations about airspace violations (lasting mere seconds), which Russia denies. The Turkish prime minister boasted that he personally authorized the attack.
Russian President Vladimir Putin called the incident a “stab in the back by the accomplices of terrorists.” Russia retaliated by imposing sanctions on Turkey and by allegedly “wiping out” the militants in the area of the shootdown with heavy bombing. Russia has also built up defenses for its planes operating over Syria near Turkey: fighter-plane escorts for bombers, as well as cover by sea-to-air and ground-to-air missile launchers.
Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg proclaimed that NATO “stands in solidarity” with Turkey and vowed support for the member country in any future war with Russia.
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