The Syrian Civil War may go down in history for bringing us the closest we’ve ever been to global war. It seems that with each passing week, something happens that brings the world’s major powers closer to conflict. This past week was no exception, after Turkish jets shot down a Russian bomber along Syria’s border. Neither side has been willing to accept any blame for the incident, and as a result, they’ve been going at it like cats and dogs for days.
The problem with this of course, is that Turkey is a member of NATO. If there’s any conflict between them and Russia, it could easily drag the United States and Europe into World War Three. Make no mistake, Turkey would have never shot down that bomber if they weren’t a member of NATO. They’re using their membership as an implicit threat. It allows them to threaten a nation that, under different circumstances, would squash them like a bug.
This is a tricky situation for the Russian government. If they have any sanity, then they don’t really want a global war, but on the other hand they can’t afford to let a small nation like Turkey get the last word. And in any case, Turkey has become one of their biggest obstacles in the Syrian Civil War. They’ve been helping ISIS at every turn by buying their oil and supplying them with weapons.
It seems that Russia has finally decided to up the ante against their old Cold War foe. They’ve since deployed their infamous S-400 anti-aircraft missiles in Syria, which is a top of the line weapon. They’re at least as good as anything our military has, and should be fully capable of shooting down Turkey’s F16’s. If you doubt that, then consider the fact that US airstrikes stopped immediately after the missiles were deployed.
They’ve also introduced a slew of economic sanctions against Turkey, including the suspension of all military contracts with them. Beginning on November 28th, Putin ordered a blanket ban on all Turkish products, which will be a heavy blow for their economy since Russia is one of their largest trading partners. Turkey has responded by quietly blockading Russian shipping channels in the Black Sea.
The most alarming development came on Monday when Russia announced that they were now arming their aircraft in Syria with air to air missiles.
Russian Su-34 bombers, additionally equipped with air-to-air missiles, have set out on their first mission in Syria, said Igor Klimov, spokesman for the Russian Air Force.
“Today, Russian Su-34 fighter-bombers have made their first sortie equipped not only with high explosive aviation bombs and hollow charge bombs, but also with short- and medium-range air-to-air missiles,” Klimov said.
“The planes are equipped with missiles for defensive purposes,” he added.
The missiles have target-seeking devices and are “capable of hitting air targets within a 60km radius,” he said.
It wasn’t that long ago that the Syrian conflict was just another distant war in the Middle East, without any wider geopolitical consequences. It was a small conflict between government troops and a few rebels that didn’t stand apart from the countless conflicts we hear about on the news on a regular basis. But little by little, the world’s major powers have stepped up their presence in the region.
I want to say that nothing will come of this and cooler heads will prevail, but then I think about where this conflict stood a year ago, and six months ago, and a month ago. Every step of the way, Russia and NATO have crept a little closer to each other.
Now a Western ally has destroyed a Russian jet, and the Russians have responded by making their aircraft capable of reciprocating. Where there was once only the potential for a wider war, now we’re seeing the very real possibility of a war. There’s a threat here that didn’t exist a few weeks ago.
So buckle up. We’re on a clear trajectory that has not deviated in the slightest over the past year. We’re dealing with global powers that have shown no signs of backing down, and unless someone does back down, there is a hellish war on the horizon unlike any we’ve ever seen before.
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Contributed by Joshua Krause of The Daily Sheeple.
Joshua Krause is a reporter, writer and researcher at The Daily Sheeple. He was born and raised in the Bay Area and is a freelance writer and author. You can follow Joshua’s reports at Facebook or on his personal Twitter. Joshua’s website is Strange Danger .