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Russian Agression Over Turkey Raises NATO Red Flags

10-06-2015
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Russia's bombing blitz in Syria is raising new tensions with NATO after Russian fighter jets flew briefly into Turkey's airspace on two separate occasions over the weekend.

And Turkey's military now says eight Turkish F-16 jets patrolling the border with Syria were placed in radar lock by a Russian MIG-29 plane and surface-to-air missile systems in two separate incidents on Monday.

Turkey is part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization which was created to stand up to the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Now Russia's latest moves in Syria, and Ukraine, are re-igniting concerns for NATO.

"It's unacceptable to violate the airspace of another country," NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said. He said NATO is expressly worried that such acts by the Russians could have unforeseen consequences.

"Incidents, accidents, may create dangerous situations," Stoltenberg warned. "And therefore it is also important to make sure that this doesn't happen again."

But the United States and NATO are struggling to figure out how to respond to Russia's increasing aggression.

The Russian government said the flights into Turkey were accidental, but Stoltenberg said that's not entirely true.

"Whether the Russian planes locked their fire control radars on the Turkish planes is something I cannot comment on. We base our assessment on the intelligence we receive. But the information intelligence we have received indicates or provides me with reasons to say that it doesn't look like an accident, what we saw in Turkey during the weekend," he said.

Stoltenberg also confirmed that Russia's airstrikes are not mainly attacking ISIS like Russia claims, but opposition groups who have been fighting Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.

"We see that the Russian air forces are not mainly attacking ISIL, but other opposition groups, including those who are fighting Assad," he said.

Through its Syrian engagement, Russia is aligning itself more and more with America's and Israel's enemies by seeking to prop up the Assad regime and coordinating military efforts with the radical Islamic regime in Iran, as well as the terrorist group Hezbollah.

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