Whatever your view on Russian involvement in Syria, we can all agree on this: It’s never a good thing when the phrase “WWIII” is trending on Twitter. But that's exactly what happened Tuesday as the world waited to see how Russia would respond after Turkey shot down a Russian warplane near the Turkey-Syria border.
Russian President Vladimir Putin lambasted Turkey’s action, labeling the incident a “stab in the back,” as NATO members gathered for an “extraordinary meeting” to discuss the incident. Turkey said two of its aircraft tailed the Russian warplane, warning it at least 10 times before shooting it down. Russian officials said their warplane never entered Turkey’s airspace.
— Foxy Brown (@foxybrown0) November 24, 2015
Everyone seems strangely pumped about WWIII.
— Heather Wilhelm (@heatherwilhelm) November 24, 2015
WWIII, escalating. RT "Putin: Downing Of Jet A 'Stab In The Back'" https://t.co/KwkuDqxDC2
— Monica Crowley (@MonicaCrowley) November 24, 2015
The tweets have been mostly jokes with a hint of serious concern about the possibility that a global conflict between NATO and Russia could erupt. Turkey is a NATO ally, meaning the U.S. and other Western countries could be dragged into a conflict between Russia and Turkey. Some took to Twitter to dispel fears, insisting that it was in neither country's interests to increase tensions.
Tensions between NATO countries and Russia have already risen in recent months, as Putin has continued to back the Syrian dictator, Bashar Assad. The U.S. and other NATO countries have funded rebels fighting Assad.
Hey guys this is not World War III. Neither NATO nor Russia cares that much about Syria-Turkey border zone air rights.
— Max Fisher (@Max_Fisher) November 24, 2015
For your "WWIII is coming" pieces: Turkey imports more from Russia than any other country (mostly due to gas). pic.twitter.com/XLo6E4tgQW
— Zeynep Tufekci (@zeynep) November 24, 2015
— Afshine Emrani M.D. (@afshineemrani) November 24, 2015
The diplomatic fallout was already beginning to show Tuesday when Russia’s foreign minister canceled plans to visit Turkey Wednesday. Putin said Russia would refuse to “tolerate such atrocities” and called for the international community to stand along with Russia in its fight against terror.
President Barack Obama said at the White House Tuesday that he hoped Russia and Turkey could prevent an escalation of tensions. "My top priority is going to be to ensure that this does not escalate and hopefully this is a moment in which all parties can step back and make a determination of how their interests are best served," the president said.