After shooting down a Russian military plane for no good reason, Turkey seems to be getting off pretty lightly.
Or perhaps Russian President Vladimir Putin is just getting warmed up.
Putin called on Russians to boycott Turkish tomatoes and supermarkets, saying the money spent on them goes to buy Turkish missiles. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said the government was drafting further economic sanctions that will be revealed within two days.
Putin ordered Turkish trucks stopped at Russian border checkpoints and their goods confiscated. He also had dozens of Turkish businessmen in Russia for a conference deported overnight. (See, it is possible.)
He got President Recep Erdogan’s goat with accusations that the Turkish government is buying oil from ISIS.
“They claim Turkey is buying oil from Daesh (ISIS),” Erdogan said in Ankara. “Shame on you. Those who claim we buy oil from Daesh are obliged to prove it. If not, you are a slanderer.”
In a later interview with France 24 he said, “We have never, never had this kind of commercial relationship with any terror organization.”
But Putin hasn’t stopped there.
In scores of furious airstrikes, Russian forces pounded over 400 targets in the region near the Turkish-Syrian border where Turkmen rebels were recorded chanting “Allahu akbar” as they shot at the Russian pilots who had ejected from their damaged fighter jet. The area was further being pummeled by missiles from Russian ships in the Mediterranean and heavy artillery fire.
The pilot of the Sukhoi 24 fighter jet was killed even as he parachuted to the ground. The co-pilot was rescued by a joint Russian-Syrian military operation in the forest where he was hiding from the rebels.
In addition to the bombing campaign, Putin has moved a unit of S-400 missile systems into Syria. The S-400 has a radar and range that lets it shoot down an aircraft at 60,000 feet some 250 miles away, more than enough to light up any Turkish F-16s that may harass Russian aircraft in the neighborhood.
Turkey released audio recordings, verified by the U.S. military, of warnings purportedly being radioed to the Russian fighter plane. The rescued co-pilot in an interview flat-out denied that he or his pilot received any radio warnings from the Turkish F-16s that were tailing them.
Even as Erdogan refused to apologize for shooting down the Russian Sukhoi, he conceded in an interview that Turkish officials might have thought twice if they knew the aircraft was Russian.
Putin is not buying the story that the Turks didn’t know the plane was one of his. Putin insisted that his country had informed the U.S. of the flight, its planned time and course. He accused the U.S. of “leaking” that information to the Turks.
Russian Foreign Secretary Sergey Lavrov said the downing of the Russian fighter looked like a “planned provocation,” and he also accused the Turkish government of collaborating with ISIS, saying that Russia was aware of ISIS trading in human organs in Turkish black markets.
Lavrov said that Russia has no intention of going to war with Turkey, but that it planned to “reassess” its relationship with Ankara.
The eerie silence in all of this, however, has been coming from the White House, where President Obama has apparently been more concerned with the turkey on his dinner table than the Turkey on the big board in the war room. That silence is speaking volumes right now.
With Russia’s military buildup in the region and NATO already on pins and needles because of France’s bulked-up campaign against ISIS, most of the world should be hoping Russia doesn’t move to “aggressive reassessment” at the tip of a missile.