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Jet Crisis: Turkey’s War With Syria Drags In Russia

Azeri Press Agency
October 12, 2012

Second jet crisis arises between Russia and Turkey

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“Forcing the Syrian plane to land in Ankara implicitly shows that Turkey and Syria are at war. Turkey can escape unharmed only if Ankara proves that the cargo on board is non-civilian and that the Syrian passenger plane carried military communications equipment from Russia. Otherwise, Russian authorities will harshly criticize Turkey’s operation carried out on the Syrian plane late Wednesday.”

Leonid Ivashov, head of the Russian Academy of Geopolitical Issues, however, sharply blamed Ankara, saying that Turkey is behaving extremely aggressively against Syria in the region and that Russia has the right to retaliate against Turkish aircraft. According to Ivashov, Putin’s delayed visit to Ankara is also due to Turkey’s aggressive policies towards Syria.

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Baku: Turkish-Russian relations, which have been developing over the last ten years, have entered a tense period because of the Arab Spring, especially due to the escalating Syrian crisis, APA reports quoting Today’s Zaman.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has delayed a trip to Turkey. Although the reason given was Putin’s busy schedule, it is clear that it is because of the Syrian crisis. Diplomatic sources close to the Kremlin said Moscow is waiting for Nov. 6, the date of the presidential election in the US. In June, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan paid a visit to Moscow where he made an offer concerning a solution to the Syrian crisis, and Putin is reported to have subsequently considered the initiative. However, due to the uncertainty over who will be elected as president in Washington, taking concrete steps on the Syrian crisis during discussions with Turkey is impossible, which led the postponement of the official visit.

During all these developments, a Syrian aircraft that had departed Moscow was forced to land at the airport in Ankara on Wednesday, increasing tension in the region. During the first jet crisis in which a Turkish jet was downed in late June in international waters by Syrian forces with the alleged cooperation of a Russian naval base, Moscow kept its silence; but the second jet crisis on Wednesday caused Moscow to react with a harsh statement.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said in a statement that Turkey was jeopardizing the security of 17 Russian citizens on board, that communication between the Russian embassy in Ankara and the Russian passengers was disrupted for eight hours and that the passengers were not given any food. Russia has demanded that Turkey give an immediate explanation and stated that it should prevent similar incidents in the future.

According to Moscow, there are no circumstances that require the transportation of military equipment in a civilian jet. Moscow would never use civilian passenger planes to export arms and weapons to Syria; if necessary, legal access by sea is already open, says a senior official of a Russian arms export company.

Talking to Today’s Zaman, Gumer Isayev, the head of the St. Petersburg Middle East Research Center, said there were no weapons on board, as Russian authorities pointed out, adding that determining if the communication equipment onboard was military or not is controversial. Isayev said that assessing these kinds of materials as military communications equipment is incorrect. “Forcing the Syrian plane to land in Ankara implicitly shows that Turkey and Syria are at war. Turkey can escape unharmed only if Ankara proves that the cargo on board is non-civilian and that the Syrian passenger plane carried military communications equipment from Russia. Otherwise, Russian authorities will harshly criticize Turkey’s operation carried out on the Syrian plane late Wednesday,” Isayev said, underlining that the interception of the Syrian aircraft by Turkish jets is within the interest of certain groups who are concerned by the fast-growing Russian-Turkish relations.

Andrey Yashlavski, foreign news editor at the Moskovskiy Komsomolets daily, said the recent jet crisis might seriously affect bilateral relations between Russia and Turkey, as there were also Russian passengers onboard the Syrian passenger aircraft, and it departed from Moscow. A number of experts have evaluated the recent jet crisis as an anti-Russia act, and Yashlavski stressed that Turkey has the right to provide its own security.

Leonid Ivashov, head of the Russian Academy of Geopolitical Issues, however, sharply blamed Ankara, saying that Turkey is behaving extremely aggressively against Syria in the region and that Russia has the right to retaliate against Turkish aircraft. According to Ivashov, Putin’s delayed visit to Ankara is also due to Turkey’s aggressive policies towards Syria.

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