Turkey-Russia tensions and consequences

Tehran, December 9, The Iran Project- Vladimir Putin’s remarks about the current tension between Turkey and Russia proves that the dispute is unlikely to be resolved soon.

His spirit in war against Chechnya separatist movement, Ukraine conflict and military operation in Syria signal the fact that he wouldn’t left the Turkey’s military move unanswered. Moreover, showing weakness and backing down may decline Putin’s popularity and question his capability to defend the country.

Due to the fact that Turkey has announced that it won’t apologize for downing of Russian jet, the war of words simmered between two countries. A verbal tension has broken out when President Putin called the Turkish military operation “a stab in the back delivered by the accomplices of terrorists”. The consequences of deterioration of two countries’ relations will be discussed under the following items:

Economic ties

The crisis has raised serious questions about the future of economic ties between two countries. They have had a raft of strategic and commercial deals in past years which could be scrapped. Russia is Turkey’s second most important trading partner and cutting economic links may widely affect the latter’s economy. Russia government also has demanded to draw up measures including restrictions on Turkish food imports.

Investment projects

Russia-Turkey direct fire curbs the mutual investment projects that have been launched in two countries. The construction of Akkuyu, the Turkey’s first nuclear power plant by Russia’s nuclear agency could be damaged as the result of Russia’s retaliation.

Tourism

Turkey is among the most popular destination for Russian citizens and this explains why Turkish tourism industry may be affected by the incident. Following the downing of the Russian jet, the government warned against tourists’ visit to Turkey and soon major tour firms stopped selling vacation packages. While according to the statistics over four million Russians visit Turkey every year, Russia foreign ministry recommended that citizens do not visit Turkey, restricting air travel to the country.

Energy supply

Turkey imports 55 percent of its natural gas from Russia and 30 percent of its oil.  Due to the fact that significant part of Turkish power generation comes from natural gas, any damage to energy and infrastructure deals could lead to a serious crisis in Turkey particularly in upcoming winter. However, while the Russia decision may face Turkey with serious hardship, it damages its own economy, as well. Due to the oil price decline and its consequences for Russia’s economy, suspension of gas export may hurt the country further, depriving it from the export revenues.

Mutual subversion

The recent crisis also raises the potential threat of carrying out subversive operations by either Moscow or Ankara through their affiliated groups in each other’s soil. Given the long standing relations with Caucasus rebellions and separatists, Turkey may put Moscow under pressure of subversive attacks. The country is also considered the first overseas partner of Tatars, who are Russia’s second largest ethnicity. Earlier, Turkey stepped to support Crimean Tatars, having assisted to convene Crimean Tatars leaders amid the Ukraine crisis.

In return, Turkey’s own Kurdish separatist problem could be used as leverage for Russia. Apart from the PKK’s (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) ideological links to Moscow, Syrian-Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), PKK’s affiliated group, have strategic ties with Kremlin, too. PYD has recently planned to open a mission in Moscow which provoked harsh reaction from Turkey.

Soon after downing of the Russian jet, President Putin ordered to send S-400 missiles with capability of the 400 kilometer targeting range to Hameimeem air base in Latakia, only 50 kilometers away from the border with Turkey. A navy missile cruiser also was sent to the shore to protect Russia warplanes. The deployment of further military equipment is considered another consequence of Turkish military measure which has added to the complications of Syrian crisis.

In sum, the Turkey military operation against the Russian jet has increased Russia’s determination in fight against terrorism, paving the way for Russia-Iran further convergence in battle against terrorism. The US and NATO reactions in solidarity with Turkey would work to escalate the confrontations between US and Russia, an opportunity which should be seized to advance the resistance-axis’s goals in Syria.