Last week Turkey shot down a Russian Su-24 fighter plane near the Syrian border.
It was the first time a NATO member shot down a Russian or Soviet warplane since 1953. That year, a Soviet fighter aircraft (MiG-15) was destroyed by the United States during the height of the early Cold War tension.
No doubt, this is a serious geopolitical event.
Turkey believes it was in the right. Apparently, during its 17 second flight over Turkish airspace, the Russian plane was warned repeatedly before it was shot down. The Russian’s emphatically disagree. They said their plane never flew over Turkish sovereign territory. Here’s The New York Times with a compare and contrast visual:
Russian co-pilot Konstantin Murahtin survived the event. Murahtin told Sputnik news (with my emphasis):
‘There were no warnings. Not via the radio, not visually. There was no contact whatsoever. That’s why we were keeping our combat course as usual. You have to understand what the cruising speed of a bomber is compared to an F-16. If they wanted to warn us, they could have shown themselves by heading on a parallel course. But there was nothing. And the rocket hit our tail completely unexpectedly. We didn’t even see it in time to take evasive manoeuvres.’
It’s impossible to say at this point which story is true. But even if the Su-24 was flying over the Turkish border, rather than trying to start World War Three, why didn’t the NATO member just escort the jet out of its sovereign territory?
According to The Guardian, an un-named Turkish government official said ‘the military action was not against any specific country but an act of self-defence’.
Right. So if a United States jet was flying over the country, it would be shot down?
Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu seems happy enough with the decision. According to The Guardian, he said it was the country’s ‘duty’ to defend its territory:
‘We want the international community to know that we are ready for any kind of sacrifice when the security and life of our citizens and our border security are concerned. The downing of a jet that had violated Turkish airspace today has to be seen in this context as well.
‘We do not adopt an approach that impeaches on the sovereignty of any country. But the world needs to know that it is our international right and our national duty to take measures against anybody who violates our borders on the land and in the air, in spite of our many warnings.’
Is it just me or is Turkey totally out of line?
It’s not as if Russia was trying to attack Turkey. What’s the need for self-defence?
I’ll explain what’s really going on…
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There’s always more than meets the eye
Turkey is fiercely opposed to Syria’s President Bashar Hafez al-Assad. It wants to build a Qatar-Saudi Arabia-Syria-Turkey gas pipeline through to Europe. Assad isn’t on board with this project. Instead, he plans on building the gas pipeline going via Iran-Iraq-Syria.
This is the main cause behind the Syrian proxy-war.
You see, Russia supplies 30% of the European Union’s gas needs. It just turned off the gas to Ukraine, so it could switch the gas off to any of these neighbours. Wanting to reduce Russia’s influence on Europe’s gas supply, the US is in bed with Turkey’s plan. Russia backs Iran and Assad.
In light of this arrangement, the recent events become clear. In this case, Turkey isn’t happy with Russian involvement in Syria. Earlier this week, during its air attacks on ISIS, it accused Russia of bombing Turkish villages near the border. AFP reported,
‘Turkey has asked Russia to immediately end its operation. Ankara, Turkey’s capital, warned bombing villages populated by the Turkmen minority in Syria could lead to ‘serious consequences’.’
This story is going from bad to worse. And it makes you wonder: was downing the Russian Su-24 fighter plane revenge?
Regardless, it appears that Turkey’s keen on protecting anti-Assad forces operating near the Turkish border.
Although showing restraint — for now — Russian President Vladimir Putin is furious. The International Business Times reported:
‘The fact that Turkey shot down a Russian plane is not the only reason Russian President Vladimir Putin is furious. Since the jet fighter was downed Tuesday near the Syria-Turkey border, Putin has reiterated concerns — already raised by other countries — that Turkey has been buying oil smuggled from the Islamic State group.
‘Turkey is frequently cited as one of the primary destinations for ISIS’ oil. As a result, tensions between Russia and Turkey over the matter might seem inevitable.
‘Oil generates about $40 million a month in revenue for ISIS, the U.S. Treasury Department has estimated, the New York Times reported in mid-November.’
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov doesn’t agree with these turns of events either. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, he said on Wednesday:
‘We have serious doubts this was an unintended incident and believe this is a planned provocation. [The] question arises whether Turkey is defending Syria area to protect rebel infrastructure.’
Why is the world at war with Russia?
Lavrov poses a good question.
And with the geopolitical crisis escalating in the region, Russia has stepped up its defence. According to the Washington Post:
‘Russia said it would take new measures in Syria to protect its aircraft, deploying powerful S-400 anti-air missile systems, which have a range of nearly 250 miles, to Russia’s Khmeimim airbase in north-western Syria.
‘The airbase is located a little under 20 miles from the Turkish border, and has the potential to create headaches for Turkish and other aircraft in a U.S.-led coalition that are carrying out a separate airstrike campaign in Syria.’
Meanwhile, Ankara is also planning on stepping up its military presence near the area where the Russian plane was shot down. The Washington Post said:
‘Turkey has moved 20 tanks from west of country to southern province of Gaziantep, bordering Syria, and increased number of F-16s flying patrols along border to 18.’
One thing is true. This escalating situation is absolute madness.
What this means for commodities
I’ve long said that most politicians are trying to start another war. They need to distract the people from the coming sovereign debt crisis. A financial crisis where governments around the world will default on their debt. When people lose their life savings after the next financial crisis, they will start blaming government.
As you can imagine, government doesn’t want to be in the firing line. Instead, politicians want to remain in power for as long as possible. And as mad as it might sound to you and me, a war to distract the people makes sense to them.
Even US President Barrack Obama is on board. He seems to think that Turkey’s decision was justified. According to The Guardian, the US President said, ‘Turkey has a right to defend itself and its airspace.’
The geopolitical events are escalating. But, at the moment, this is still a chess match. It will take time before we see a full on confrontation. As such, commodities are due to crash in the months ahead.
When we see a full on confrontation, commodities will boom. That time hasn’t come yet. But if you want to know the best time to buy commodities, and the best miners digging them up, check out Resource Speculator. If you want to know more on this story, click here.
Resources Analyst, Resource Speculator
Ed Note: The above article first appeared in Money Morning.