Cold War Redux: Britain and Russia Face Off In Syrian Skies

Cold War Redux: Britain and Russia Face Off In Syrian Skies

This has the unlimited potential to not end well at all. The Royal Air Force is standing its ground in Britain’s efforts against ISIS, and that means possibly defending itself from Russia.

An RAF Tornado
An RAF Tornado (photo: Reuters)

RAF Tornado pilots have been instructed to avoid contact with Russian aircraft while engaged in missions for Operation Shader – the codename for the RAF’s anti-Isis work in Iraq and Syria. But their aircraft have been armed with air-to-air missiles and the pilots have been given the green light to defend themselves if they are threatened by Russian pilots.

“The first thing a British pilot will do is to try to avoid a situation where an air-to-air attack is likely to occur — you avoid an area if there is Russian activity,” an unidentified source from the UK’s Permanent Joint Headquarters (PJHQ) told the Sunday Times. “But if a pilot is fired on or believes he is about to be fired on, he can defend himself. We now have a situation where a single pilot, irrespective of nationality, can have a strategic impact on future events.”

Welcome back to the 1980’s, everyone. Mitt Romney thanks you for coming.

In the meantime, Russia seems to be busy helping out Bashar Assad and taking out Syrian rebels for him, instead of targeting ISIS.

Russia claims it is fighting IS, but while the Islamist group has been the target of some of its air strikes, IS has no foothold in the areas of western Syria targeted in the majority of Russia’s attacks. The Russian defence ministry said missiles fired from its ships in the Caspian Sea hit weapons factories, arms dumps, command centres and training camps supporting IS.

British officials are also reporting that three field hospitals were also hit by Russian bombs.

All it will take is one Russian pilot deciding to do something aggressive, and a British pilot deciding to act on it, and we will have a very hot war instead of a cold one.

Meanwhile, President Obama is busy on the golf course today.

He probably called Britain and Russia and asked them not to do anything stupid before he can get his nine holes in, right? God help us all.

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