Alex Rowell writes: Imaginations continued to run freely Wednesday, one day after a Russian fighter jet was shot down over Syria by Turkey after allegedly violating the latter’s airspace, leading to the killing by Syrian rebels of the pilot as well as a Russian marine sent by helicopter to search for the ejected co-pilot.
Fans of Russian President Vladimir Putin rushed to social media to declare the impending downfall of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, while mainstream American media networks asked whether the incident may in fact “start World War III.” Such fancies were further propelled by the news that Russia is set to deploy high-tech S-400 air defense missiles to its Syrian air base, as well as to send an air defense ship to the edge of Turkish waters in the Mediterranean.
And yet, despite Putin’s threat of “serious consequences” for Ankara, both nations have in reality already retreated from any potential brink. “We have no intention to escalate this incident,” said Erdoğan in a televised speech. Similarly, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov remarked, “We will not wage war with Turkey, and relations with the Turkish people have not changed.” Indeed, the mood in Turkey, according to analysts with whom NOW spoke, is largely placid, with the fallout from the incident widely expected to be confined to, and contained within, the Syrian warzone exclusively. [Continue reading…]