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27 Nov 2015 00:00
Vladimir Putin (r) met Syria's leader Assad last month. (Reuters)
The Turkish embassy in Moscow was pelted with eggs, stones and paint.
Viewers of state television heard
that the “cynical” Turks showed no
remorse for their “dastardly” actions.
The Russian state news agency,
Sputnik, warned: “The sick man of
Nato: [Recep] Erdogan’s madness
‘could provoke WWIII’”.
But while the rhetorical fury
was dialled up to the max in the
aftermath of Turkey’s downing of
a Russian bomber over the Syria-
Turkey border on Tuesday, the
message between the lines was that
Russia would not allow the incident
to spiral out of control.
One of the main announcements
made on Wednesday was that
Moscow would, from next week, ban
certain Turkish poultry imports. It
was hardly a suggestion of serious
Before Tuesday’s incident – the
first time a Nato member state had
shot down a Russian warplane
since the Korean war – Turkey had
been an important part of Russia’s
attempt to find new partners outside
the United States and the European
Union after Ukraine-based sanctions.
That will now change.
The Russian foreign minister,
Sergei Lavrov, was dismissive of
the hour he spent on the phone on
Wednesday with his Turkish counterpart, Mevlüt Çavusoglu.
But despite the anger, it is clear
Moscow does not want the situation
to degenerate. A break in diplomatic
relations is not on the table.
So what of those “significant consequences” that Russian President
Vladimir Putin so starkly warned
about on Tuesday? Lavrov and other
officials were at pains to point them
out, but it seemed they might manifest themselves more in tone than
On Wednesday, a Bill to make
denial of the Ottoman genocide of
the Armenians a crime was introduced to the Russian Parliament.
France has a similar law on the books
about the genocide, which Turkey
denies took place. The timing of the
Bill did not appear coincidental.
And, after Putin’s remarks about
the attack on the Su-24 having been
carried out by “the accomplices of
terrorists”, Russian officials also said
they would begin carefully investigating links between terrorist groups
in Syria and other countries.
This was presumably a suggestion
that Moscow could try to embarrass
Turkish authorities by proving longstanding whispers about tacit support for the Islamic State by some
The one concrete measure that
is likely to have an effect is the
announcement that Russian tour
agencies are now banned from selling holidays to Turkey. About four
million Russians a year travel to
Turkey, mostly tourists, and the ban
will severely affect Turkey’s tourist
industry, especially on the country’s
southern coast. Many huge hotels
around Antalya cater specifically for
the Russian market. – © Guardian
News & Media 2015
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