Whatever your view on Russian involvement in Syria, we can all agree: it’s never a good thing when “World War 3” is trending on Twitter. It came as the world waited to see how Russia would respond after Turkey shot down a Russian warplane near its southern border Tuesday.
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 aircrafts tailed the Russian warplane, warning it at least 10 times before shooting it down. Russian officials said the warplane never entered Turkey’s airspace.
The tweets, trending with “WWIII,” are mostly jokes with a hint of truthful concern. Some took to Twitter to dispel fears, insisting that it was in neither country’s interests to increase tensions. Turkey’s a NATO ally, meaning the U.S. and other Western countries could be dragged into a conflict between Russia and Turkey. 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.
The diplomatic fallout was already beginning to show Tuesday as 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.
Pope Francis said last week that the upcoming holiday season would be stained by war. His comments came in response to the terrorist attack earlier this month in Paris, France, which left at least 130 people dead, and wounded hundreds of others. “There will be lights, there will be parties, bright trees, even Nativity scenes, all decked out, while the world continues to wage war,” pontiff said.