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Russian-Turkish conflict: Prospects and Consequences

Author : Valentin Orekhov

18:15, 27 November 2015
Russian-Turkish conflict: Prospects and Consequences

Author : Valentin Orekhov

Turkey downed Russian bomber that caused tension in relations between the countries, threatening to escalate into a serious conflict

18:15, 27 November 2015

Reuters

Shifting of the conflict of interests of two Black Sea countries to the military level will inevitably lead to an aggravation of the geopolitical situation in the Middle East, and as a result, to the outbreak of large-scale war between the parties with the use of various means of destruction.

Memory about the war

Historically, relations between the two empires, to put it mildly, did not exist. Throughout the history Russia and Turkey fought for 12 times (including the World War I).

There were wars for Black Sea territories and Caucasus, for rights of Christians on the territory of Osman Empire, for Bosphorus and Dardanella control. Russia considered the possibilities of taking over Constantinople. Wars with few interruptions had been continued for almost 400 years after that two empires ceased to exist and the peace reigned for 100 years.

Continuing peace and stability in the good-neighborly and even partnership relations in the economic sphere in this case violated due to a clash of interests in the context of the powers of the Middle East conflict, with varying intensity lasting more than a decade. The reasons of this conflict and the roles of participants of this confrontation - the theme of other studies. It should be focused on the near term development of complex military and political situation and the consequences of the Russian-Turkish confrontation in Ukraine.

Unfortunately, we are witnessing an escalation of the conflict in the military-strategic and economic terms.

In particular, following an attack on the Russian bomber, events began to develop like an avalanche and to predict their effects in the long term is difficult. Russia has said it will not ignore incidents like what has happened with the SU-24 bomber, which was destroyed by the Turkish Air Force.

This may include the deployment of Russia in the border with Turkey near the modern air defense systems, the application of the Kremlin to strengthen the contingent of Russian aerospace forces acting on the territory of Syria, occupation of missile deployment area with missile cruiser Moskva closer to Turkey alongside threats to destroy any objects that threaten the Russian aviation.

In addition, there has been a sharp deterioration in economic relations. Namely, Russia unilaterally introduced a number of measures that can’t be interpreted just as steps to resolve the conflict.

Thus, the evening of November 24 without explanation, Rosturizm recommend Russian tour operators to suspend the promotion and implementation of tourist products as well as individual tourist services in the Republic of Turkey. As it has been done without complaints by Russian tourist industry two days later.

In addition, the Federal Service on Surveillance for Consumer rights protection and human well-being announced its claims to the products of light industry fromTurkey, including children's clothing, furniture, cleaning products. And on the border of the Russian Federation, there are problems with the release of goods from Turkey. Turkish products are sentto the full examination instead of partial, which greatly increases the time of customs clearance procedures.

Also, Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance banned from December 1, the supply of poultry meat, which a number of Turkish companies produces. The products that already are available in the country areput on strengthted laboratory control.

At the same time, there are no attempts to resolve the conflict in the political mainstream that evidences in favor of its protracted nature.

Attack is the best form of defense

Immediately after the incident, the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov canceled his visit to Turkey and said that, "shooting down a Russian plane, carrying out tasks on the Russian anti-terrorist operation o f National Aerospace Planein Syria," the Turkish leadership, "in fact, took anISIS side".

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said "that many good neighborly relations are undermined" between Russia and Turkey.He stressed that a number of important joint projects may be canceled, and Turkish companies will lose its position in the Russian market.

Immediately Russian parliamentarians recalled the Armenian Genocide by Turkey in 1915. The bill on responsibility for denial of the Armenian Genocide introduced in the State Duma faction Spravedlivaya Rosiia. Faction leader Sergei Mironov wrote about this on Twitter.

Equally sharp attacks were expressed by other Russian politicians, but on a smaller scale, thatwithout any proofaccused Turkey of funding ISIS.

Over this background, "pumping" of Russian society in the information field didn’t pass without a trace, which led to unpunishedvandalized attack at the Turkish Embassy in Moscow and the office of the Turkish brewery in Ulyanovsk. Local police did not intervene and did not carry out any arrests. According to Turkish officials, some embassy’s employees were slightly injured.

On the other hand, at an emergency meeting of the NATO allies affirmed their commitment to support Turkey.Countries called for a de-escalation of the conflict, however, the Council noted that in the reverse situation, NATO is ready to defend the inviolability of the borders of Turkey.

Conflict of interest

Despite the dynamism with which the confrontation is developing, there are a few constants, based on which you it’s possible to build a forecast of the confrontation between Russia and Turkey in the upcoming months.

The first and foremost is a military potential available to the conflict parties. In this respect, Turkey is obviously on top.

Reuters

This 80 million people country, has the second largest army in NATO after the United States. Turkish Armed Forces are well trained and equipped with modern weapons. Therefore, in the case of a military conflict, the Turkish army is a very serious opponent, and in the case of overgrowthof such conflict, Ankara has the ability to call for help all the members of the North Atlantic Alliance. In view of this, the chances of winning by the Kremlin and Putin in a local conflict is real only if nuclear weapons are used, which is unlikely in modern conditions and the status of Turkey as a NATO member.

Secondly, in Ankara an Islamic party is in charge, based on an absolute majority in parliament, and in the international arena, Turkey is positioned as one of the leaders of the Sunnites. At the same time, Russian Muslims are followers of this particular movement of Islam, that in case of war can lead to certain complications in Russia.

Third, decades of smoldering conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, fell deeply in a series of clashes in the unrecognized the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, can get a new boost,by the blessing of Ankara,that threatens Russia, as a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, to be dragged into a new war. Given the situation in Ukraine, such a scenario for Russia is extremely disadvantageous.

The fourth reason is Russian annexation of the Crimea. Turkey historically perceivesthe Crimean Tatars as their brethren, and Ankara does not hide it’s displeasure over the unfriendly actions of Russia in the Crimea. In this context, the freezing of relations between Ankara and Moscow may lead to the Ukrainian-Turkish rapprochement up to the military-technical presence of Turkey in Ukraine.

And the last reason, but no less important , is a strategic geographical position of Turkey, which controls the Bosphorus. This makes it possible to Ankara in case of conflict transition to a military phase to block any movement of Russian ships through the sea gate, thereby tightly locking them in the Black Sea. The issue of transit through the Bosphorus is now important for Russia than ever before. In light of the vital importance of the logistic supply of Russian military contingent in Syria, any even small obstacles in this way immediately lead to a sharp rise in price of the already expensive Middle Eastern operations.

Economic weapon

Enumerating the military-political and geo-strategic aspects of the problem which will inevitably haunt Russia in the event of a military conflict with Turkey, we turn to the issues of economic confrontation.

In this regard, Russia is also inferior to its Black Sea neighbor. As former vice-chairman of the Central Bank of Russia, an economist Sergei Aleksashenko, noticed: "Russia loves to use the economic weapon that damages mainly Russian population."

A serious deterioration of relations with Turkey is likely to finally put an end to the gas pipeline project Turkish Stream, and to bury together with italready carried out under the multi-billion Russian investments. Given the fact that Turkey is the third largest buyer of Russian gas (after Germany and Ukraine), the decline in purchases of hydrocarbon will have additional negative impact on the filling (that already suffers due to international sanctions) Russia's budget. Of course, to find alternative suppliers to Turkey will take some time, but, taking into account the proposals on the market, the problem is completely solved.

Reuters

It's not the only problem in the energy sector, cooperation withwhich is mutually advantageous for both countries. In the case of escalation of the conflict, Russian investments in the oil, steel and financial companies will be under a threat. The construction of a nuclear power plant commissioned by Rosenergoatom on the southern coast of Turkey will be affected;to the draft of which Russia has invested a lot of money.

The tourism business is the most popular question of the Russian-Turkish cooperation, the main income share bring Russian to Turkey. Undoubtedly, Russianban on the promotion and implementation of tourist products as well as individual tourist services cause substantial damage to the economy of Turkey.

However, upon condition of an adequate adjustment of pricing policy, the Turkish tourism industry will be able to save the upcoming tourist season with the help of the Europeans scared of terrorist threat in Egypt and Tunisia.

How millions of Russians who are accustomed to a comfortable rest at affordable prices would react to this restriction, time will show. But there is a chance of increasing dissatisfaction middle class, whose representatives in a matter of two weeks lost their favorite destinations -Egyptian and Turkish. These prohibitions some effort discontent in those sectors of society that have grown accustomed to a certain lifestyle, but now, despite unleashed "wowpatriotic" propaganda campaign, startfeeling that the level and quality of life has been steadily falling.

Ukraine won’t be forgotten

All the above considered, the current balance of power, and even taking into account the peculiarities of characters like Putin and Erdogan, the scenario of further escalation of the conflict up to the use of nuclear weapons is unlikely.

However, despite statementof Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that Russia is not intended to fight with Turkey, experts and analysts do not exclude the escalation of a local military and political conflict into the global.

Thus, according to co-director of the program's foreign policy and international security of Razumkov Center, Alexei Melnik, the mechanisms, which in theory could lead to a third world war has already started. According to him, the consequences of the escalation of the conflict between Russia and Turkey can be unpredictable. Turkey is a NATO member, and in case of war all participating countries will take part in it on Turkishside.

"Statements by the Russian General Staff that all flights of bombers will be accompanied by fighters and theair defense system will be deployed is a step towards escalation. There have already been cases where Turkish fighter caught in the sights of Russians, then it was solved on the diplomatic level. It is possible that somepilots can take, respectively to the rules of the use of weapons, the decision to shoot ,"- suggests the expert.

The message has got a particular relevance that after publicized speech of Russian bombers shot down survived pilot who allegedly stated his determination to "return the favor for the commander."

As for the prospects of influence of the Russian-Turkish conflict on Ukraine, the opinions of experts are divided.

A military expert Igor Romanenko believes that escalation of the conflict between Russia and Turkey could "play into the hands" of Ukraine. "If the US can maintain a medium war and two small, Russia can’t do this, - said the expert. The time is needed, to choose ctirical instrument for Russians, this might be not today or tomorrow, and then take action to liberate the occupied territories ".

At the same time the international political analyst Alexei Melnik believes, that due to the conflict between Russia and Turkey in the East, the situation in Ukraine could escalate.

"Iimpact on our situation with our conflictis in a more global context. Of course, this may affect the success of future negotiations. Russia may try to use an escalation in the Donetsk area. Putin needsto show decisive actions. If he won’t be able to show it there, it is likely that hemight use Ukraine ", - the expert believes.

In summary, it can be assumed that the conflict with the mediation of the EU and the US will be transferred to the political plane soon. At the same time Russia will try to use Ukraine as a bargaining chip to obtain concessions and wider powers in the Middle East crisis.

In case of refusal of the West, which is possibly expected, Putin's return to the topic of resumption of active hostilities in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine might take place. After all, in order to maintain the rating of a nation leader he needs at least some victory, even Pyrrhic.

Related: Russian warplane violated Turkish airspace

Related: Russia closed all channels of military cooperation with Turkey

Related: Russia v.Turkey: SU-24 case

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