Russia is now equipping its Su-34 fighters with air-to-air missiles in preparation for potential dogfights with NATO over Syria.

“Today, Russian Su-34 fighter-bombers have made their first sortie equipped not only with high explosive aviation bombs and hollow charge bombs, but also with short- and medium-range air-to-air missiles,” Russian Air Force spokesman Igor Klimov told RT. “The planes are equipped with missiles for defensive purposes.”

He also added the missiles are “capable of hitting air targets within a 60km radius.”

It’s obvious that Russia is not equipping its jets with air-to-air missiles to fight ground-based ISIS militants but rather to prevent Turkish F-16s from shooting down more of its planes.

Turkey, a NATO ally, shot down a Russian Su-24 bomber on Nov. 24, claiming it had violated Turkish airspace, but Moscow rejected the claim.

Numerous analysts also pointed out that even if the Russian jet did cross through the tiny strip of Turkey bordering Syria, it would have only been in Turkey for a matter of seconds.

“In the wake of the downing, President Vladimir Putin on Saturday signed a decree imposing a package of economic sanctions against Turkey,” RT reported. “The measures include banning several Turkish organizations and the import of certain goods.”

“Under the sanctions, the visa-free regime for Turkish nationals traveling to Russia will be suspended starting next year.”

Turkey responded by reportedly blocking Russian ships from passing through the Strait of Bosphorus linking the Black Sea to the Mediterranean, which prevents Russia’s Black Sea fleet from traveling to the rest of the world or even back to its home port.

But Putin has also ordered 150,000 Russian troops deployed into Syria while also sending another 7,000 Russian troops with tanks, rocket launchers and artillery to the Turkish border at Armenia with orders to be “fully combat ready.”

Even though Turkey initiated its stand-off with Russia by intentionally shooting down the Su-24 near the Syrian border, it could potentially invoke Article 5 of the NATO Treaty which requires all NATO members, including the U.S., to come to its defense if Turkey goes to war with Russia.

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