Turkey will regret it. What does Putin mean?
In his annual address to the nation, the Russian president fanned the flames of resentment against Turkey. “They will regret the treacherous war crime”, Putin said talking of the Su-24 downing, adding that “they are not going to get away with tomato bans,” referring to economic sanctions. What does he mean?
- Friday, 04 December 2015
The bitter confrontation between Ankara and Moscow for the downing of Russian aircraft on the border between Turkey and Syria last November 24 is turning more and more into a personal confrontation between Erdogan and Putin. And perhaps for this reason we should continue to feel safe. Because the fiery words the two autocrats are exchanging look more like a dispute between tenants than a diplomatic crisis between two regional powers stamping each other’s feet.
Putin personally accused Erdoğan of trafficking Syrian oil buying it from the ISIL (that now everyone calls Daesh) and reselling it on the black market in Turkey. It is a ridiculous accusation. Erdoğan responded more or less the same way. "Show the evidence," he said. Then the friends of Putin released satellite images of hundreds, sometimes thousands of trucks that daily cross the border between Turkey and Syria. "Here's the evidence," they said. The strong man of Ankara has run even angrier and in response said that it is not Turkey but Russia illegally buying Syrian oil. "I will show the evidence," he added. This is a ridiculous accusation too.
Meanwhile, however, Putin spoke to the nation for the annual address. And he talked tough.
"If somebody may have thought that after committing a treacherous war crime - the killing of our people - it will be possible to get away with restrictions on tomato trade or some other restrictions in the building and other industries, they are grossly mistaken," he said. "We shall remind them many a time what they have done and they will more than once feel regret what they have done. We are perfectly aware of what action is to be taken."
What he’s talking about?
The truth is that Russia has already undertaken the action Putin mentioned, immediately after the downing of the Su-24. If before there were strong doubts that Moscow bombers had the ISIL as main target, now we can be pretty sure of it. According to independent sources, Russian strikes are recently encouraging ISIL advance toward Aleppo. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported violent clashes in the area between the ISIL and the Free Syrian Army, while according to the media outlet of Syrian activists Shaam Network, ISIL took the village of Kafrah, along the line of FSA supply coming from Aazaz, on the border with Turkey, to Aleppo. "It should be noted that Russian warplanes raided rebel positions in the area, which facilitated the group’s entry into those villages," the activists wrote.
According to Aaron Stein, a researcher at the American think tank Atlantic Council, the Russians "are targeting Turkish interests directly in areas that Ankara had declared it would clear of ISIL in the forthcoming months.” Russia's strategy appears aimed to weaken the opposition in Aleppo, and thereby empower the ISIL, while at the same time encourage the Kurds to advance east from Afrin. “This strengthens Assad's bargaining power in the future and weakens Turkey”.
Who will regret it.