Following the American military’s downing of a Syrian fighter on Sunday, Moscow is no longer using the military hotline between Washington and Moscow utilized to avoid collisions in Syrian airspace. Russia also threatened to target any aircraft flown by American and its allies over Syria.
According to a statement from the Russian Defense Ministry, “All flying objects, including planes and drones of the international coalition, detected west of the Euphrates, will be followed by Russian air defense systems as targets.”
The United States, however, intends to continue their operations as usual in their fight against ISIS targets. Col. Ryan Dillon told the NYT, “We are going to continue to conduct operations throughout Syria, providing air support for coalition and partnered forces on the ground.”
The Syrian plane in question had dropped bombs near local ground forces supported by the U.S. The plan was the first shot down by American troops since 2011.
The situation is still developing, but according to Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., “This is a delicate couple of hours.” American officials are still willing to utilize the hotline which coordinates air operations for Iran, Israel, Russia, Syria, Turkey, and the United States and their allies. The hotline is essential for ensuring unexpected conflict doesn’t break out.
Moscow has threatened to suspend communication before, but they’ve never actually done so before now. It is unclear how long they intend to not use the hotline, but the Russian Defense Ministry condemns American actions as “military aggression.”
Hopefully, we will know more about this potentially volatile situation soon.