Russo-Turkish Tensions Since the Start of the Russian Air Campaign

Russia and Turkey have long been at odds over Syria, with Moscow backing President Bashar al Assad and Ankara supporting the opposition to overthrow him. Tensions increased dramatically with the start of the Russian air campaign on September 30. The Turkish shoot-down of a Russian combat aircraft on November 24 is an escalation in this tense stand-off between Russia and a NATO member. Although both sides may refrain from additional aggressive activities at once, tensions between Russia and Turkey have been continuously growing and are likely to expand, further testing the strength of the US commitment to its NATO partner. These tensions will also severely hinder efforts to build a "grand coalition" including Turkey and Russia.

This timeline is a joint presentation by the Institute for the Study of War ( and the Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute ( The text is drawn from daily media tracking and analysis conducted by the superb analytical teams at ISW and CTP. The Syria Team at ISW includes Jennifer Cafarella, Christopher Kozak, and Genevieve Casagrande. The Ukraine/Russia Team is headed by Hugo Spaulding. This presentation was created by Frederick W. Kagan, director of the Critical Threats Project ( ISW analysts can be reached at

2015-09-30 21:26:09

Russian air campaign in Syria begins

Russian aircraft based at Syria's Latakia airfield hit targets in rebel-held towns in Homs and Hama Provinces. Targets included groups supported by the US.

2015-10-02 14:21:00

Turkey accuses Russia of targeting moderate opposition

Prime Minister Davutoglu says Russia is hitting the Free Syrian Army to 'destroy the moderate opposition' and bolster the Assad regime.

2015-10-03 14:21:00

Russian jets violate Turkish airspace twice

Russian fighter crosses into Turkish airspace, and MiG-29 aircraft (either Russian or Syrian) locked fire-control radars on Turkish F-16s.

2015-10-05 14:21:00

NATO warns Russia about violating Turkish airspace

NATO holds emergency meeting about Russian violations of Turkish airspace. Turkey warns Russia that it might shoot down Russian aircraft in future.

2015-10-06 14:21:00

Russian warplanes harass US and Turkish aircraft over Syria

Anti-aircraft missile systems in Syria locked fire-control radars on eight Turkish F-16s. US aircraft forced to re-route to avoid Russian planes in Syria.

2015-10-08 01:00:00

Turkey threatens trade with Russia

Erdogan warns Russia of Turkish economic retaliation for Russian airstrikes supporting Assad.

2015-10-08 11:38:15

Russian aircraft intercept US drones over Syria

Russian warplanes flew "intercept tracks" at least three times since September 30.

2015-10-08 11:38:15

US and Germany withdraw Patriot missiles from Turkey

The US and Germany continued pre-planned withdrawals of Patriot anti-aircraft batteries from Turkey despite Turkish appeals to leave them in place.

2015-10-10 11:38:15

Syrian air defense harasses Turkish aircraft

Syrian air defenses locked fire-control radars on seven Turkish F-16s on two separate occasions.

2015-10-12 11:38:15

Russia announces escorts for its bombers in Syria

Russia announces that advanced Su-30 air superiority fighters will accompany its attack aircraft, presumably to defend against coalition airplanes.

2015-10-15 11:38:15

Turkish and Russian officials discuss aerial tensions

Turkish official says Russian aircraft approached Turkish planes at dangerous distances 13 times since September 30 and Russia has provided no "adequate" explanation.

2015-10-16 08:00:00

Turkey shoots down Russian drone over Turkey

A Turkish jet downed a Russian drone that crossed from Syria into Turkey, according to an unnamed U.S. defense official. Meanwhile, Russia's Ministry of Defense announced that all Russian planes had returned to Latakia Air Base after "completing combat operations" but said that Russian drones were still conducting surveillance operations.

2015-10-16 11:38:15

Russia says it will stop escorting its attack aircraft

Russia says its attack aircraft will fly solo again.

2015-10-16 16:00:00

Syrian Kurds plan to open mission in Moscow

Turkey warned that Ankara would react harshly to the opening of a Kurdish mission in Moscow.

2015-11-06 11:38:15

US stations aircraft in southern Turkey

The U.S. sent six F-15C aircraft to Incirlik Airbase in southern Turkey.

2015-11-12 11:38:15

US sends more aircraft to Turkey

The U.S. sent six additional F-15E jets to Incirlik Airbase in Turkey to support the international coalition's ongoing anti-ISIS efforts in Syria.

2015-11-18 11:38:15

US and UK discourage France from invoking Article V

The U.S. and Britain reportedly discouraged France from activating NATO's Article 5 guarantee to avoid complications with Russia and Turkey

2015-11-20 11:38:15

Turkey summons Russian ambassador over bombing of Syrian Turkmen villages

Turkish Foreign Minister warned that Russian attacks on Syrian Turkmen villages "could lead to serious consequences."

2015-11-21 11:38:15

Assad advances against Turkmen under Russian air cover

Syrian, Hezbollah, and Iranian-backed militia forces advance in Turkmen areas under Russian air cover.

2015-11-22 11:38:15

Turkey blocks shipment of Russian helicopters to Iraq

Turkey refuses to allow Russia to send Mi-28 helicopters to Iraq over its airspace. They were sent over Iranian airspace instead.

2015-11-24 11:38:15

Turkish aircraft shoot down Russian attack plane

Two Turkish F-16 planes shot down a Russian SU-24 jet on November 24 that Turkey claimed was in Turkish airspace and ignored repeated warnings. Two Russian pilots ejected from the plane, which reportedly crashed in the Turkmen village of Yamadi in Syria near the Turkish border.

Russo-Turkish Tensions Since the Start of the Russian Air Campaign

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