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NATO Member Turkey Shoots Down Russian Fighter Jet; Putin Vows Revenge

This is the kind of thing that happens when you put ten different armies, taking orders from at least ten different commanders, in the same theater.

Last night a Russian fighter was flying in and out of Turkish airspace and Turkey shot it down. Then local rebels (Syrian Turks) shot the pilots as they parachuted to the ground.

Now everybody's mad and the sabers are rattling. Putin called the Turks "the accomplices of terrorists" and warned of "serious consequences." Diplomatic representatives have been summoned to various ministries, planned visits are being canceled, and NATO ambassadors are meeting, presumably to write a unified list of talking points. Russia advised its citizens to avoid visiting Turkey and the former's tour operators stopped marketing such trips.

The initial US response is that it's a matter for Russia and Turkey to sort out -- which is odd considering that as the lead member of NATO the US is obligated to back up any other member in a fight.

In other related news (from Reuters):

In a further sign of a growing fallout over Syria, Syrian rebel fighters who have received U.S. arms said they fired at a Russian helicopter, forcing it to land in territory held by Moscow's Syrian government allies.

Turkey called this week for a U.N. Security Council meeting to discuss attacks on Turkmens, who are Syrians of Turkish descent, and last week Ankara summoned the Russian ambassador to protest against the bombing of their villages.

And that's just one little corner of what is now a broad Middle East war. See:

In Yemen, a Saudi war fought with US help

Iran says U.S. has plan to divide Iraq, pleads with Iraqis to resist

Israeli soldier killed, two wounded in West Bank gas station stabbing

What does all this mean financially? Either nothing or quite a bit, depending on what happens next. If everyone shakes hands and returns to the business of slaughtering faceless "rebels," then the global markets will shrug and turn back to the Fed and ECB. But if the name calling and threats go on for a while, then the already long line-up of potential black swans will get another really big one: the possibility of confrontation between NATO and Russia in a place where everyone is already shooting at everyone else -- and where the US has a growing number of soldiers in harm's way.

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