Is Russia behind the downing of the Turkish jet? The Sunday Times of London thinks so.
This development could get ugly. The Sunday Times (paywall) reports that Russian technicians likely played a key role in shooting down last week’s Turkish jet — “to send a message to NATO.”
“It definitely has Russian fingerprints on it,” said a diplomat, who summarised the Russian message: “Syria is not Libya and any attempt to impose a ‘no fly zone’ over Syria will face one of the most formidable air defences on Earth and will cost any attacker dearly.”
Three years ago Russia supplied Syria with the advanced Pantsir-S1 (SA 22 Greyhound), with 36 launchers. Russian specialists are believed to have trained the Syrians and diplomats say some are still stationed at the missile battery control centres.
“We would not be surprised if these Russian experts, if they didn’t push the button, at least were beside the Syrian officers who did it,” an Israeli air force source said.
On a related note, US intelligence is coming around to the belief that the Turkish jet was indeed shot down over Syrian airspace. More on that assessment at the Wall Street Journal.