Please take the time to read Article V of the 1949 NATO treaty, it is very short:
‘The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.
Any such armed attack and all measures taken as a result thereof shall immediately be reported to the Security Council. Such measures shall be terminated when the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to restore and maintain international peace and security.’
Thank you. You, dear reader, are now one of the tiny minority of people that can discuss Article V having actually read it. This is the last one, now please read Article VI:
‘For the purpose of Article 5, an armed attack on one or more of the Parties is deemed to include an armed attack:
- on the territory of any of the Parties in Europe or North America, on the Algerian Departments of France (2), on the territory of or on the Islands under the jurisdiction of any of the Parties in the North Atlantic area north of the Tropic of Cancer;
- on the forces, vessels, or aircraft of any of the Parties, when in or over these territories or any other area in Europe in which occupation forces of any of the Parties were stationed on the date when the Treaty entered into force or the Mediterranean Sea or the North Atlantic area north of the Tropic of Cancer.’
As you can see, an incursion in airspace is not considered an ‘attack.’ Ergo, the 17 second incursion by a Russian Su-24 does not constitute a circumstance under which Article V could be invoked. As preposterous as this sounds, Turkish nationalist have been parroting this very thing.
What is interesting is what would happen if Russia had decided to respond militarily, in contrast to its present retaliation via sanctions. As the jet did not bomb Turkey and the actual contact of the missile with the jet occurred over Syria, and because the Syrian government has given Russia leave to operate in it’s airspace… it could get very sticky. If Russia were to bomb a Turkish target in retaliation, or shoot down a Turkish jet (something that would be covered by Article V per Article VI), what would happen?
Many Turks say that their government would invoke Article V. But could it? Article V only covers aggression, Turkey’s initial action could be considered aggression, in which case Turkey would find itself alone in the world.
However, given the time that has passed, this is unlikely to occur. Russia has already begun to exact it’s revenge via bombing Turkmen rebels and Turkish supply convoys in Syria. It has also banned many Turkish exports, etc, etc. Russia is not likely to bomb Turkey or otherwise retaliate at this point. However the Turkish military will likely think twice before taking another legally dubious action, especially considering their own staggering 2244 incursions of Greek airspace.
Russia also has to look out for its access to the Mediterranean via the Bosporus and Hellespont. Access to both of these is outlined by the Montreux Treaty of 1936.
Source on Turkish incursions: http://www.politico.eu/article/turkey-buzzes-weakened-greece-military-airspace/