NOTE: An earlier version of this analysis appeared in Antiwar.com.
This was drafted on November 24, soon after the shootdown of the Russian Su-24 by Turkish fighters, with updates through November 27:
It's Clear Which Side Turkey Is On
What Was the Level of U.S. Complicity?
What happened. Turkey claims the Russian plane crossed into Turkish airspace and failed to respond to repeated warnings. Russia claims it can prove its plane was over Syria the whole time. We will see if one version or the other will be generally accepted or whether a contentious muddle will continue indefinitely (cf. MH-17). However, even if the Turkish version prevails, the Russian plane at most would have been over Turkey for a well under a minute and presented no threat to anything or anyone inside Turkey. As stated by Valeriy Burkov, a Russian military pilot and recipient of the Hero of Russia medal: "It's clear that this was a premeditated action; they were prepared and just waited for a Russian plane to show up. It wasn't downed because of pilot error, or because he was trigger-happy or whatever. This is preplanned, premeditated action." That assessment is likely true even if the aircraft passed momentarily into Turkey.
[UPDATE NOV. 27: Not only is it almost certain that Turkey was waiting in ambush to shoot down a Russian plane when the opportunity presented itself, it is increasingly clear it did so using information provided by Russia to the "US-led coalition" -- that is, the United States -- as to the Su-24's flight path. Put another way, Russia provided information about its operations to the US as part of a supposed cooperation against ISIS, which information the U.S. then shared with Turkey, which then used the information to shoot down the Su-24. Whether that is the extent of likely US complicity is unknown. For example, did Turkey proceed with its attack after consulting with the coalition -- again, meaning the US -- or did they proceed on their own without consulting or seeking clearance from anyone? One of the two Su-24 crew were killed by "moderate" terrorists supported by Turkey (and the U.S.?) as they parachuted to safety, a war crime in itself. Another Russian, a marine, was reported killed when his rescue helicopter searching for the Su-24 crew was shot down with a US-made TOW missile supplied to the jihadists.]
(Image by 'Turkey gave no warning' - downed Russian pilot, (source: Turkish military, Russian military)) Details DMCA