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Turkey’s terror network in Russian crosshairs

By M K Bhadrakumar November 26, 2015

Source: Indian Punchline: Reflections on foreign affairs

A careful analysis of the extensive Russian statements through the past three days regarding the tensions with Turkey suggests that Moscow has (all but) ruled out the conspiracy theory that Ankara took the fateful decision to shoot down the Russian jet last Tuesday with tacit encouragement from the United States.

Given the prevailing climate of Russia’s ties with the West, it should not have surprised Moscow that the NATO secretary-general Jen Stoltenberg expressed the customary support for Turkey’s territorial integrity or that President Barack Obama viewed Tuesday’s incident through the prism of the endgame in Syria. Importantly, Moscow would have noted that both NATO and Obama advised Turkey to ‘de-escalate’ with Russia and made it clear this was a matter between Ankara and Moscow. (See my blog US, NATO tell Turkey to ‘deescalate’ with Russia.)

Moscow has since invoked the recent Russia-US memorandum on ensuring the safety of combat aircraft operating in Syria “in which the US assumed the responsibility for observance of relevant regulations by all participants of the coalition it leads, including Turkey”.

Moscow has concluded after meticulous consideration of the circumstantial evidence of the case that Turkey committed a pre-meditated act. A range of explanations would be available as to why Turkey acted the way it did, but Moscow appears to have zeroed in on two of them principally: a) Turkey attempted to precipitate a confrontation between Russia and the western alliance that would disorient the Russian military operations in Syria; b) Turkey tried to derail the ongoing Russian operation in Syria’s highly sensitive border regions through which the main supply routes for the extremist groups (such as Nusra Front) pass.

Indeed, in Moscow’s estimation, Russian-Turkish relations can never be the same again. There is a deep sense of betrayal at the level of the Turkish leadership. At the very minimum, the Kremlin would have expected President Recep Erdogan to express regret over the incident. (Moscow has left still some time to the Sultan to do that, if he wishes to, by deferring a final decision on its retaliatory measures against Turkey.)

Clearly, the failure of Turkey’s diplomatic game plan to rally the NATO for a confrontation with Russia means that Moscow’s retaliation will remain ‘Ankara-centric’ and doesn’t become a ‘NATO issue’. Moscow has announced that it doesn’t intend to use force against Turkey. Put differently, Turkey will have no alibi to invoke Article V of the NATO Charter.

On the other hand, Moscow also will leave with Turkey no option but to accept as a new reality the Russian military operations in Syria’s northern border regions. In fact, by Wednesday,Russian jets were back in action in the very same area where the […]

Continue reading this post: Turkey’s terror network in Russian crosshairs / By M K Bhadrakumar November 26, 2015