Addressing questions about the possibility of Turkish threats against Russian warplanes escalating into a full-scale war, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stollenberg committed NATO to providing military support in such a conflict, since NATO is there to “help and assist” Turkey. Stollenberg talked up Turkey having the “second-largest army” in NATO and having a “capable” Air Force capable of being “first responders” in a conflict against Russia. It is unclear what metric Stollenberg was using to assess Turkey’s army in this way.
The whole notion of a conflict on this line stems from Russia’s air war against ISIS, and Turkish complaints that Russian planes briefly violated their airspace during one of their bombing runs. Russia insisted the violation was accidental, and Turkey responded by threatening to shoot down future Russian planes. After similar complaints about Syrian planes, NATO sent some additional air defense assets to the Turkish border, though it was clear this was not done at the time with an eye toward starting a new world war against Russia, a fact that may be lost on the Turkish government, which in the run-up to elections is eager to please nationalists with a show of force. CONTINUE