Downing of Russian jet adds to toxic cocktaik in the region, experts say

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vladimir-putin-russia.jpgTurkey shooting down a Russian jet on Tuesday morning is just proof of the 'toxic cocktail' of dangers in the region which could erupt into crisis with devastating effect, an expert has warned.

Middle East expert Shashank Joshi, from the Royal United Services Institute, said the skies over Syria and Turkey are an 'incredibly crowded airspace', with planes from both nations and members of the US-led coalition against IS - including the UK - operating.

Turkey, a Nato member, has already complained about Russian incursions into its skies and last month the alliance condemned the 'unacceptable violations of Turkish airspace by Russian combat aircraft'.

Mr Joshi said: 'The situation is dangerous because Russia is quite probably deliberately probing Turkish airspace both for military reasons and political reasons.'

The Russians will be testing the military responses of the Nato member, but also carrying out the same 'psychological intimidation' tactics used in the Baltic and North Atlantic, he suggested.

The combination of the crowded airspace, Russian probing tactics and the diplomatic tensions create a 'real toxic cocktail that can easily erupt into crisis', he warned.

Ankara will be 'furious' at the incursion and Russia can expect Nato to strike a 'tough' note, but behind the scenes there will be intense diplomatic efforts to calm tensions.

But if Moscow responds in a provocative way, there is a risk of the crisis escalating.

Mr Joshi warned: 'These things always proceed in a very unpredictable fashion. We have seen how conflicts can begin when there are large alliances.'

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