RUSSIA AND TURKEY: WILL THERE BE HOSTILITIES?

Ken Berwitz


As I suspect you know, Turkey shot down a Russian fighter plane this week.  

Turkey claims that the Russian plane was in its air space long enough to receive repeated warnings, before shots were fired.

Russia claims that it its plane either was never in Turkish air space or was there, accidentally, for just a tiny bit of time, and that there were no warnings.

I don\’t know who is telling the truth here.  I wonder if anyone does, or can.

But I do know that, for very different reasons, these are two bad players.

-Russia, under Putin, has become an over-aggressive bully, with no compunction about taking land it has decided it owns (ask the Ukrainians).  It also has superseded the United States as major power broker in the Middle East (thank you, Mr. “Lead From Behind”).

-Turkey used to be a very pleasant anomaly – a Muslim democracy (there are barely any) and a country which practiced tolerance to non-religionists, including Jews, even Israeli Jews (almost unheard of in Muslim countries).  But under recep tayyip erdogan – who was just re-elected by a wide margin, it is well along the road to becoming none of those desirable things.

In any event, the situation between Russia and Turkey is rapidly deteriorating.  

Now Russia is accusing Turkey of buying black market oil from ISIS (under erdogan, this wouldn\’t surprise me), and has, among other punishments, suspended visa-free travel between the two countries.  

Russia is also in the process of imlementing major economic retribution – as seen from the following excerpt of an Associated Press article, via USnews.com:

On Thursday, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev ordered his government to also draft sanctions against Turkey within two days in response to what he described as an “act of aggression against our country.”

The sanctions will include “restrictions and bans on Turkish economic structures operating in Russian territory, restrictions and bans on deliveries of products, including foodstuffs,” as well as on labor and services.

The steps threaten billions of dollars of trade, as well as further complicating the Syrian conflict.

Russia is the largest destination for Turkey\’s exports, and the two countries are bound by plans for a new gas pipeline and strong trade in food and tourism.

How serious is Russia about this?  It has even started importing tomatoes from Israel, instead of Turkey.  This may not sound like a big deal to you, but given that erdogan hates Israel with a passion, it is a major humiliation.

Now:  what, if anything, does Turkey do to Russia, and where does it go from there?

With Putin running the show, that is an extremely troubling question.  Especially since people who go up against him sometimes have an unusually high mortality rate.

Let\’s all keep our fingers crossed that these two can somehow resolve their differences without violence.  Because the chance that there will be violence is very much in play.

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