NATO Adds Air Defenses to South Turkey, Fueling Russia Rivalry

Lithuania FM: Deployment to 'Counter Threats to Southern NATO'

A week after Turkish warplanes shot down a Russian bomber over Syrian airspace, NATO has announced a plan to deploy yet more warplanes and anti-aircraft missiles in southern Turkey, adding to tensions with Russia along the Syria-Turkey border.

NATO officials suggested the move was designed to “reassure” Turkey, and to fill the gap after Germany and the US removed Patriot missile batteries from the area. Lithuanian FM Linas Likevicius said the deployment was vital to “counter threats” to Turkey.

Yet Turkey doesn’t appear to be at threat from any aircraft at this point, and the move seems designed purely to needle Russia, which has itself been adding to air defenses in northwestern Syria, and has announced its intention to escort bomber along the border to ensure Turkey doesn’t take any more shots at them.

German FM Frank-Walter Steinmeier is calling for a special NATO meeting with Russia, though the Baltic nations seem eager to make the deployment more directly confrontational. Britain has pledged interceptor jets to the deployment, once plans are finalized.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.