After the downing of a Russian jet by the Turkish military, things have been developing quickly; and now NATO is planning what is being called an “extraordinary meeting” to address this touchy international situation.
The emergency meeting is set for 5 pm Brussels time to discuss a response to the shooting down of the Russian plane near the Syrian border, and was called at Turkey’s request.
“At the request of Turkey, the North Atlantic Council will hold an extraordinary meeting at (1600 GMT). The aim of this extraordinary NAC is for Turkey to inform Allies about the downing of a Russian airplane,” a NATO official told AFP.
Russia appears to still be in the midst of deciding its next move. But Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova did tell the media today that Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has already cancelled an upcoming trip to Turkey as a result of the downed plane.
Larov has also noted that Russian President Vladimir Putin himself has told his ministers that this is a turning point in relations with Turkey and that it “cannot but affect Russian-Turkish relations. In this regard, it decided to cancel the meeting, which was planned for tomorrow.”
The Syrians have called the downing of the jet a “new crime.” But the Turks insist that the Russian pilots transgressed Turkish airspace, and there is some evidence that the Turks are right.
“This isn’t an action against any specific country. Our F-16s took the necessary steps to defend Turkey’s sovereign territory,” a Turkish official said in an email sent to the media.
There is still the question of whether it was a surface-to-air missile that downed the warplane or if it was a Turkish F-16 that did the deed.
Both pilots of the Russian jet were seen ejecting from their plane, but Syrian rebels have already reported that at least one of those pilots is dead. There is still no information on the whereabouts of the second pilot, but there were also reports that the Syrian rebels were firing with small arms at the pilots as they descended in their parachutes.
The downing of the Russian jet is worrisome to many as it sets up the first direct confrontation between a NATO-allied country and non-NATO Russia.
The situation is fluid and still developing.