Did Turkey Overreact To Russia’s Second-Long Violation? No! – OpEd


By Mehmet Yegin

The Russian Federation has a typical way of dealing with NATO member countries in security confrontations. Moscow does not directly and openly confront these countries but rather abuses the gray area in which certain encroachments are too insufficient as to require the invocation of Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty. Within this gray area, Russia commits a violation and then propagandizes to other NATO member countries not to regard the matter as a serious threat that would necessitate NATO involvement. Thus, using salami tactics, Russia expands its influence on the ground without directly confronting NATO all the while pushing ahead to attain its goals.

As it relates to Russia’s encounters with Turkey, Ankara had indeed enjoyed closer relations with Moscow, especially compared to its other NATO counterparts in Eastern Europe that are more familiar with Russia’s tactics. In fact, Turkey’s gradually developing relations with Russia, primarily on the basis of economic and energy cooperation, even became subject to criticism from Turkey’s Western allies. Turkey also chose to disregard its differences with Russia when it came to Syria and attempted to solve Russia’s minor violations with an appeasement policy.

Nonetheless, these cordial relations ended with Russia’s bold move to intervene in Syria in line with Iran, Assad, and Hezbollah. With this move, Russia showed its intention to choose strategic influence in the Middle East over its cordial relations with Turkey. This came to constitute a breaking point not only because the two countries’ differences in Syria peaked, but also because of Turkey’s eventual reception of Russia’s support for the PYD along with its violation of Turkish airspace as inimical. Considering such developments, Russian President Putin’s “stab in the back” rhetoric is indeed implausible.

Why did Turkey shoot down the Russian jet?

Following the downing of the jet, some experts evaluated the incident in terms of an overreaction on the part of Turkey. Certain contentions were voiced employing a line of argument that an airspace violation which only took seconds should not be reason for such a strong reaction. There was also news about NATO members suggesting that the Russian jet should have been escorted out of Turkish airspace as a softer alternative. Nonetheless, the issue is not about the duration of this single Russian violation; rather it is about the nature and prospects of Russian violations.

This is not the first and only time that Russia violated Turkish airspace. It had also done so last month. Turkey has already escorted Russian jets out of its airspace not only at the Syrian border but also above the Black Sea – in March this year. Russian missile systems have also harassed Turkish air forces in the past. In this way, it can be seen that Russian violations have come to exhibit an iterative and expanding quality that can be regarded as designed to test the limits. At some point Turkey had to stop this. Otherwise, Russia would continue to commit ever invasive violations.

What’s next?

After the crisis, further escalation would be between Russia and NATO rather than Russia and Turkey seeing that the latter took the matter to Brussels and provided solid evidence that the Russian aircraft indeed violated Turkey’s airspace. From this point on, NATO’s acquiescence of further Russian violations directed at Turkey would severely damage its deterrence capability. Thus, it is of low probability that Russia escalate tension to an all-out confrontation with NATO. In this sense, it is certain that diplomatic attempts to de-escalate the tension will take place. Such is rational and should be welcomed by all parties involved.

As Former US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul stated, Russia’s reaction will probably come in an asymmetric way. In terms of political reactions, Russia will focus on fighting ISIS in order to rally others against Turkey. Here, a growing international consensus that ISIS is the main target in Syria has become more apparent after the attacks in Beirut and Paris and the plane explosion in Sinai. Expectations for a united coalition against ISIS have even come to the fore. Thus, Russia will probably attempt to ride this wave in an attempt to drive Turkey into a corner. As Putin made certain accusations of Turkey’s relationship with ISIS after the event, it may be expected that this policy will deepen. Besides, Turkey may be accused of harming the possibility of Russian cooperation with West against ISIS. Russia will also probably push for Turkey’s isolation in the Syria talks, and increase its support for Assad and the PYD. Nonetheless, Russia has already more or less walked this line up until now.


JTW - the Journal of Turkish Weekly - is a respected Turkish news source in English language on international politics. Established in 2004, JTW is published by Ankara-based Turkish think tank International Strategic Research Organization (USAK).

3 thoughts on “Did Turkey Overreact To Russia’s Second-Long Violation? No! – OpEd

  • November 27, 2015 at 4:39 am

    Oh I believe Turkey put their foot in it by shooting down the Russian jet. Public opinion is on Russia’s side at the moment. Turkey is sliding into hardline Islamic rule, they fight the Kurds, they support non-Assad rebels, they are buying ISIS oil. Does Turkey really think the majority of smaller European countries want a war with Russia? Turkey ought to rethink it’s policies. Their bases for NATO usage are not worth a world war

  • November 27, 2015 at 1:03 pm

    Happy Thanks Giving Day to the American People and the entire world, particularly the Arab refuges who have been displaced by the Actions of Western Imperialism which have destroyed the Iraqi and Libyan governments and Syria. Mr. Mehmet’s analysis has no value and a clear defense to a bad action by untruthful Turkish government. The Turkish government has no integrity and morality at all. It is a puppet government to western imperialism and it hits its friends in the back. It hit Iraq in the back in 1990 and then Syria and now Russia. All these countries had very strong economic and political ties with Turkey. Infact Turkey receives billions of dollars from these countries. All these countries respect Turkey very much and have had strong history with it. Most of our Arab grandfathers served in the Othman army and defended Turkey. But The Turkish governments again have no morality. It is very simple to explain what has happened about the Russian jet. President Putin is a man of integrity and has committed his country to eliminate Daesh and other terrorist groups in the region. He has no imperialist agenda at all. The Russian air force has been hitting Daesh significantly and the Syrian army is advancing on the ground to eliminate Daesh. Daesh on the run. President Putin’s effort has hit the imperialist plan and Turkey in the heart. Both have been supporters and defenders to Daesh. 200 daily oil tankers take Iraqi and Syrian Daesh oil to Turkey and sell it at $10 a barrel. Millions of dollars of oil revenue cross Turkey to Daesh in Raqqa, Syria. Turkey allows the transfer of funds to happen. All Daesh foreign fighters go to Syria and Iraq through Turkey. Turkey bombs the Kurdish fighters about a month ago because they surrounded Daesh. The Turkish bombing open the ways to keep Daesh alive. All finances from other countries go to Daesh through Turkey. Daesh released all Turkish hostages in Musal, Iraq but killed other hostages. Daesh receives all its military equipment through Turkey. Daesh fighters move in Turkey freely and the government allows that.
    Turkey is using Daesh to occupy the northern border of Syria. Turkey has been trying to use the imperialist army, NATO, to impose no fly zone on Syria in order to use NATO to occupy Syrian land and keep the roads open to finance and militarize Daesh. Given these facts, when President Putin starts bombing Daesh Turkey now tries to bring the NATO to impose its domination and occupation of Arab land. One point has to be stated. Turkey does not want AL Assad to remain the president of Syria because of money related to a gas pipeline coming from Qatar through Syria and Turkey. The Syrian government did not agree about building this line and the Sultan of Turkey, a war criminal defended by NATO, retaliated against all Syrian people.
    Turkish jets bomb Kurds in Iraq and Syria daily when Daesh is threatened. Turkey and the UN do not consider these acts as violation to sovereignty of two countries Iraq and Syria. US put forces on Syrian land and does not consider this violation of the international law. When a Turkish jet was downed by the Syrian army Turkey became upset, indicating that a violation of Syrian airspace by 30 seconds or so should not have led to the shooting down of the Turkish jet. Now, when the Russian jet violated the Turkish space for 17 seconds (according to Turkey), Turkey has justified its action as violation of its boarder. The Turkish action explains itself easily, telling the world that the Turkish government has no integrity and untruthful political institution.
    The world, if the UN has integrity, should impose sanctions on Turkey and forces Turkey to pay for the Armenian massacre in 1915 and the killing of Syrian people. If Turkey does not pay for these Actions, it will continue hitting the world in the back and will continue creating terrorist groups such as Daesh. It will create problems for the NATO and the United States of America.

    • November 27, 2015 at 2:12 pm

      Mr. Mouhammed, a very happy thanksgiving day to you sir, and thank you for your kind sentiment to the American people. I have no wish to labor under the influence of biased media or my own personal opinion regarding the situation between Turkey and Russia. Rather, I hope to discover an understanding based on public and factual reports. Would you be so kind as to identify your legitimate sources of information regarding the “facts” that you have stated? Your published sources will help me and my fellow Americans to inform ourselves about the legitimacy of the claims of both parties and allow us to make an informed opinion of the same. Seeing that all publicized government statements may be subject to exaggeration, misleading or slanted information, it remains the duty of the common citizen to arm ourselves with as much knowledge as possible, from all available sources, to base our opinion on truth. As much as we can discover. Thank you.


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