By invading Turkish airspace and getting so close to NATO borders, Russian President Vladimir Putin plays dangerous games, which may unleash a war between Russia and NATO, according to the Turkish media.
The invasion of Russian jets into Turkish airspace and the subsequent reports on social media that Turkish forces shot down a Russian jet have triggered a round of red-hot discussions in the Turkish media.
Turkish daily Star, citing military experts, noted that by invading Turkish airspace, Russia was most likely testing Ankara’s reaction as well as NATO’s air defense systems.
By penetrating airspace of a NATO member Russia wanted to see if Turkey would carry out any retaliation measures, and if the Russian jets would be capable to carry out an operation that Syrian air forces cannot afford, according to Turkish Habertürk and Milliyet newspapers.
Russia reminded NATO about the importance of the alliance among its member states, according to Türkiye. The newspaper noted that after the incident on the Syrian-Turkish border, NATO members have been voicing their support for Ankara one by one, showing NATO’s unity.
Russia has violated not only Turkish airspace, but also NATO’s airspace, according to retired General Ali Er, as cited by Hürriyet. The General noted that Russia has revealed that Turkey is the weakest link in NATO air defense system.
Are we on the verge of NATO vs Russia war?
So how will Russian-Turkish relation develop and are we facing a war between NATO and Russia? Hasan Aksay, a columnist for T24, recently wrote an article titled ‘Putin’s move Syria: dangerous phase in Turkey-Russia relations’, in which he noted that the relations between the two countries may experience the “most severe earthquake in recent history.”
But Turkish newspapers Milliyet and Bugün went as far as saying that the airspace invasion incident may lead to a conflict or confrontation between Turkey and Russia.
Meanwhile, Murat Yetkin, a columnist of Radikal, reported that an identified MiG-29, which is believed to be Russian or Syrian, had its radar locked on the Turkish F-16s patrolling the border with Syria.
The common opinion in the Turkish media is that long-term projects and economic relations between the two countries are unlikely to suffer from the current military tensions.
New Russo-Turkish War or not?
If Russia stops supplying its gas to Turkey, it will be extremely difficult for Ankara to find an alternative, according to Cumhuriyet as well as Milliyet, noting that Turkey must understand that its relations with Russia are far more important than Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s future in Syria.
The only way to bring down the tensions between the countries is to establish a dialogue, according to a columnist of Milliyet, adding that Turkey is the one who can take it upon itself and initiate such a dialogue with the Russians.
Ak?am, Turkish daily newspaper, concludes that no matter how tense the relations between Turkey and Russia are, the possibility of a new Russo-Turkish war is low.
The Kremlin keeps silent, while Ankara officials, including the President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, keep talking about the invasion of their airspace by Russian jets.
Erdogan and Putin, who used to be almost allies in fighting the Western hegemony, have found themselves amidst the conflict.
The Russian and Turkish leaders have a lot of things in common. They both despise the West and the opposition, while willing to do anything in order to protect their own power and authority.
Middle East: The thriller
The trade between Russia and Turkey reached $31.6 billion last year, overwhelmingly accounted for by Russian energy exports, according to the Financial Times. But with Turkey looking to expand its influence in the Middle East, the economic relations between Moscow and Ankara might wither.
Especially given the fact that Ankara understands that after the Assad regime is removed from power, Turkey’s influence in the region would most likely prevail. Some experts even predict that in such a scenario, Turkey will restore its control over the Mediterranean Sea.
For Mr. Putin the civil war in Syria is an opportunity to counter U.S. global dominance, while for the Turks – the Syrian crisis is first of all hundreds of thousands of refugees, special forces fighting against Islamist radicals and the emerged Kurdish conflict.
For Turkey, the Syrian war is a challenge to the country’s future, while for Mr. Putin it is rather geopolitical games against Washington. After Ankara denounced Russia’s annexation of Crimea as well as halted the Turkish Stream project, Putin does not feel the need to take Turkey’s interests and concerns into account.
If Russia’s goal is to help the Assad regime create and maintain its own enclave on the Syrian territory, Russian military presence in the region will most likely become constant and significant. In such a scenario, the role of Iran, with whom Ankara has tough relations, will grow along with Iraq’s dependence on the Teheran regime.
The U.S., for its part, will most likely be looking for a regional ‘backbone’ such as Kurds, who already have their own government in the Western part of Iraq and can expand it to Kurdish regions of Syria. In such a case, Turkish Kurds will have to abandon their idea of broad autonomy and start demanding independence.
Russia’s policy in the Middle East is now the most unpredictable factor for the future of Turkey.
It was reported on October 10 that Turkish forces shot down a Russian jet after it entered Turkish airspace, according to unconfirmed reports on social media.
Eyewitnesses claimed that there was a large explosion in Huraytan, northern Syria, while three fighter planes were seen overhead.