Turkish-Russian Relations Worsen As Turkish Helicopter Is Downed

23 May 2016   Russia, Turkey

Kurdish Militant The “game-changing” downing of a Turkish attack helicopter by Kurdish rebels with a Russian-made missile could further intensify still simmering hostilities between Ankara and Moscow. Coming nearly six months after a Turkish jets downed a Russian bomber operating from a Syrian airbase, the May 13 incident made front-page news in Turkey. “It was a message to [the] government and public,” commented Metehan Demir, an independent defense analyst and former Turkish military pilot. The missile featured in a Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) video of the attack “is a Russian-made SA18 or SA24,” he noted, using the North Atlantic Treaty Organization codenames for the shoulder-held, anti-aircraft missiles 9K38 Igla (“Needle”) and 9K338 Igla, manufactured since Soviet times in the Russian town of Kolomna. Two pilots died in the crash, which Ankara initially attributed to a technical malfunction. On May 19, the Turkish military stated that the helicopter “was hit […]

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