Downed plane has us wondering: are we really ready to trust Russia?

Those of us who have observed more history than others could have been forgiven for greeting the news the West
New Zealand

Those of us who have observed more history than others could have been forgiven for greeting the news the West was working closely with Russia with some hesitation. After all, the Cold War may technically be over, but Russia hasn’t always played by the rules since.

The current alliance, of course, has to do with Syria and defeating ISIL, but late last night Turkey shot down one of Russia’s fighter jet – a move Vladimir Putin says is a “stab in the back”.

The Russian president has practically accused Turkey of being”accomplices of terrorists”, and has said the “most serious incident” would have consequences for Moscow’s relations with Ankara, reports CNN.

However, reports have emerged that Turkey warned the pilots 10 times before shooting the plane just one kilometre from the Turkish border. The plan crashed four kilometres inside Syria and the pilots ejected, with one killed and the other believed to be captured by ISIL, according to Reuters.

This is just the latest in a series of tensions between Russia and Turkey, with the latter warning in October it would not tolerate any more Russian incursions into its airspace.

A foreign affairs expert says the incident could push us back to the worst part of the Cold War.

“The situation is very grave, it can develop to even more dangerous crisis than it already is,” says research director at the European Leadership Network Lukasz Kulesa, who adds that tensions between Russia and NATO have been building for 20 years.

There are early signs that Russia will respond to the incident aggressively, rather than diplomatically, warned analyst Lukasz Kulesa.

Kulesa, London-based , has been tracking rising tensions between NATO and Russia for the last two years.

“Unfortunately this (shooting down of the Su-24) is not terribly surprising,” Mr Kulesa told Fairfax. “This is a very sad confirmation of a problem that was there before.”

He added, “This is getting us back to the darkest hour of the Cold War with the Soviet Union.”

Putin’s reaction – accusing Turkey of complying with ISIL – is “menacing” says the analyst.

“Instead of trying to de-escalate tensions and trying to work to resolve them, he accused Turkey of helping terrorists, and almost of working with ISIS. This is a very dangerous approach to take. It can very easily escalate further, if they decide to retaliate.”

As the situation unfolds today and over the next few days, we will have a clearer picture of what we are dealing with. Turkey could invoke the NATO treaty and demand military support from its allies, or impose economic sanctions on Russia.

But the real question is: what will Putin do?

Do you think we can trust Russia to help us defeat ISIL in the Middle East? What are your memories of the Cold War? Is the world a different place today?

 

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