Russia may not resort to military measures to retaliate against Turkey

The Turkish General Staff announced on Tuesday that a Russian Su-24 was warned 10 times in five minutes before being shot down by two Turkish F-16s. The General Staff released a radar analysis of the downed plane’s route, which indicated that the aircraft violated Turkish airspace before it was shot down.

The Russian Defense Ministry, on the other hand, said that the downed plane was shot in Syrian airspace.

“For the entire duration of the flight, the aircraft was exclusively over Syrian territory. This was recorded by reliable monitoring methods,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement.

In remarks to Today’s Zaman on Wednesday, Professor Sedat Laciner from Canakkale 18 Mart University’s international department said Russia will respond to Turkey’s downing of its plane in ways that do not include military measures.

According to Laciner, while applying a counter measure to Turkey, Russia will be cautious of not creating uneasiness on the part of NATO.

“Russia vows to take reprisals [against Turkey], but also says that it will not include military [measures]. Russia [will not do anything] that disturbs NATO or harm its relations with France and Germany. [Russia] will take a series of [counter] measures against Turkey, which will likely be economic,” said Laciner.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said on Wednesday that Ankara could expect to be on the receiving end of economic and business sanctions.

Speaking in the city of Yekaterinburg, Medvedev said the Kremlin may now move to cancel important joint projects with Turkey, saying Turkish firms — who are active in everything from construction to retailing — could see their market share in Russia shrink.

Complaining that Turkey’s actions have increased the tensions between Russia and NATO, of which Turkey is a member, Medvedev reiterated Russian President Vladimir Putin’s accusation that unnamed Turkish officials were benefiting from Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) oil sales.

However, Laciner added that Russia might take steps that would damage Turkey’s interests, especially in Syria, by intensifying its military attacks against opposition groups fighting Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

Russia recently started a military buildup at Syria’s Latakia airport. Russia began intervening in the Syrian civil war on Sept. 30 in support of Bashar al-Assad, targeting Syrian opposition forces backed by the US and Turkey with air strikes. Russia says it is targeting the terrorist ISIL group.

On Wednesday the Kremlin said Moscow would dispatch an S-400 air defense system to bolster its Khmeimim air base in Syria’s Latakia province, an advanced weapons system that can be used to shoot down planes at long distance.

Speaking to Today’s Zaman, Chairman of the Istanbul-based Center for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies (EDAM) Sinan Ulgen also said he thinks Russia’s response to the downing of the plane will be in the form of economic sanctions.

“Turkey and Russia have so far maintained good bilateral relations by setting aside differences on their policies in Syria. But this diplomatic success of the two countries has been interrupted [by the downing of plane]. Turkey is an important country for Russia in terms of commerce and investment. I don’t expect Russia to retaliate harshly,” said Ulgen.

Turkey had $5.9 billion in exports to and $25 billion in imports from Russia in 2014, the seventh biggest export partner of Turkey. Russia is also one of the primary foreign markets for Turkish contracting projects.

Turkey imports 95 percent of its energy from abroad and meets 55 percent — or 27 billion cubic meters (bcm) — of its natural gas consumption and 30 percent of its oil needs from Russia. Additionally, the contractors of Turkey’s first nuclear energy plant in Mersin’s Akkuyu district — whose reactor is due to be built in 2016 — are two subsidiaries of Russia’s state-owned Rosatom.

In his column in The Guardian newspaper, Kier Giles, a Russian military analyst at Chatham House, said Russia will also be hurt economically if it imposes sanctions on Turkey.


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