Ivo Daalder says Turkey had right to shoot down Russian jet

Former US representative to NATO says incident should not come as much of surprise

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Russian Sukhoi SU-24 aircraft goes down in Turkmen mountain of northwestern Syria near Kizildag region of Turkey's Hatay province on November 24, 2015.

Turkey had the right to shoot down a Russian fighter jet violating its airspace, a former US representative to NATO said, adding that the incident should not come as much of a surprise.

In fact, the incident was one "that was waiting to happen," Ivo Daalder told Anadolu Agency.

"The way Russia has used its military forces not only in Syria but around NATO territory ... was bound to lead to this kind of incident," he said.

"Turkey was fully justified after having repeatedly warned Russia to shoot down an airplane that was entering its airspace."

The SU-24 was shot down early on Tuesday after being intercepted by two patrolling Turkish F-16s acting within Turkey’s rules of engagement.

The Russian aircraft was warned about the violation 10 times within five minutes before it was shot down. NATO has confirmed the accuracy of information shared by Turkey about the violation.

In early October, Russian warplanes had twice violated the airspace. Russian officials apologized and pledged that no such incident would be repeated.

Tuesday's incident prompted an emergency NATO meeting in which the alliance expressed solidarity with Turkey.

NATO "needs to be prepared to defend NATO territory and the Turkish decision to shoot down the aircraft was an indication of that," according to Daalder.

He said the alliance should also "declare its interest in sitting down with Russia to work out procedures to ensure that these kinds of accidents and incidents don't happen in the future."

"I think that's where focus now needs to be -- not at the kind of bluster or escalation that we are seeing coming out of Moscow," he added.

Meanwhile, US Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush expressed support for Turkey’s decision to shoot down the Russian warplane.

"Turkey is a NATO ally, they are an integral part if we're to be successful in the fight against [DAESH] and to change regimes, to take out [Syrian regime leader Bashar al] Assad, it used to be our objective," Bush told CNN on Wednesday.

"If we are serious about that, Turkey needs to be an ally and we need to show support. I think President Obama was correct to say that every country has a right to self-defense," he added.