Moscow and Ankara must focus on peace
For centuries, Turkey and Russia have squared up to each other, belligerence kept at bay only by cold pragmatism. But the downing of a Russian jet by the Turks yesterday has brought a parlous and fractured relationship to boiling point. This has the potential to be ruinous for Europe and indeed the world. Russian President Vladimir Putin has already warned of serious consequences.
US President Barack Obama has issued an appeal for cool heads. We must hope that he is heeded. Were Russia to retaliate and bring down a Turkish jet, the Nato member could call on its allies to act, a direction that could only end in catastrophe.
In truth, Mr Putin has been playing some very dangerous games of late. In Georgia, Crimea, eastern Ukraine, the Baltics, and most recently Syria, he has pursued a relentlessly Russia-first agenda, trampling on diplomacy and political agreements. His meddling in the affairs of other nations has at times bordered on the irresponsible. Russia loves a strong leader, yet Western leaders must accept some of the blame for not taking the Russian president more seriously. He may be accused of having a cavalier attitude towards other nations' borders, but, on the other hand, he has not always been welcome at the elite table.