Putin cannot easily befool international system

Published 28.11.2015 00:49

In technical terms, the incident of the downing of the Russian jet does not have any indeterminate or "grey" areas. Russia's first violation of Turkish airspace took place on Oct. 3. Although the parties negotiated just after the incident, another violation followed on Oct. 4. In the following days, Turkish and Russian authorities met again and Turkey reminded the Russians of its rules of engagement. The process was finalized on Oct. 15, with the official meeting of the two countries' military delegations, during which it was mutually agreed that violations would be avoided. However, another violation occurred on Oct. 29 and Turkey again bore the incident in a mature manner.

But before long, Turkish patience would end. In the latest episode, two jets were warned for a period of five minutes to avoid making a violation. The warnings were also conveyed to Russian air traffic control as per the agreement between the two countries. Operation Inherent Resolve spokesperson Warren also announced that they received the warnings and watched the process upon that. However, the pilots did not say to who the Russian-made jet belonged and no message came from Russian air traffic control. Still, the first jet was left alone when the airspace violation began. But the second one was downed. Seemingly, Russia had thought Turkey would remain hesitant and tacitly consent to Russian sovereignty in the region. But it was clear Turkey would say "one minute" when a certain threshold was exceeded.

After the jet was downed, Russia asserted that this act would have "serious consequences," and also declared that new S-400 air defense systems would be deployed at Hmeymim air base, adding that from now on threats would be answered with fighter aircraft that will accompany all their planes. Responses from the U.S. and U.K. stated that Turkey previously settled this incident on a principled ground in synchrony with them. The U.S. also blacklisted some firms bolstering Assad and marketing oil obtained from DAESH, which indicates that Russia cannot easily befool others since it is evident that some Russian firms are among the blacklisted companies and money transfers were carried out via Russian banks.

In truth, everyone knows the real motivations. Russia does not intend to fight DAESH. Under the pretext of an anti-DAESH mission, it tries to ensure it has a permanent force in the region sided with Syrian President Bashar Assad. It is absurd that they search for Chechens among Turkmens while Chechen terrorist groups are fighting as part of DAESH. The Vienna negotiations provided substantial freedom of action to Russia as the decisions taken will only enter into force after Jan. 1. Until then, no rules are assigned to any country. So in the meantime Russia is in search of expanding its zone of influence and bargaining power as far as it can. And this is possible through eliminating opposition groups in Syria by helping DAESH survive. Turkmens are an important target for Russia since they are located just on the north of Latakia and they are hard to manipulate due to their connections with Turkey.

Now the main question is how far Russia will force this tension, which has been created with deliberation. We can presume that it would push as far as it goes if Turkey was in an isolated position and the U.S. and Europe abstained from offering political support. But this is not the case. Plus, Russia is militarily weak since the area of concern lies right on the Turkish border. Given this geography, Russia lacks any advantage in case of a real conflict. Such a tension might also spell the end of Assad and Russia's aspirations in the region. Therefore, we can expect a process in which good judgment prevails. Meanwhile, it is obvious that it is high time to make some fundamental choices for Kurds.

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