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Turkey: What Price Will Ankara Pay for Downing Russian Fighter?

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (right) and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet briefly during the G20 summit in Antalya in mid-November. The downing of a Russian bomber by Turkish fighter jets has put the two countries into a political, military and economic standoff. (Photo: Turkish Presidential Press Service)

Three days after Turkey’s November 24 downing of a Russian fighter jet, Turkish leaders seem ready for Kremlin blowback. But analysts and officials in Ankara are less sure about how the incident will impact Turkey’s relations with its allies.
 
 One Turkish analyst believes that the timing of the incident near the Turkish-Syrian border could exacerbate tension among Turkey’s allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Some NATO member states, especially France, had hoped to bring Russia fully into an anti-ISIS coalition in Syria. The fighter shoot-down greatly complicates such efforts.
 
“Behind the words of support and solidarity, I think they [other NATO members] are very unhappy with what happened,” said political scientist Cengiz Aktar of Istanbul’s Suleyman Şah University. “It jeopardizes the slowly building coalition between the West and Russia to counter the Islamic State.”
 
Such a coalition has caused unease among Turkey’s political leaders. Ankara and Moscow are on opposing sides in the Syrian civil war, a rivalry that has already soured their once close friendship.
 

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Dorian Jones is a freelance reporter based in Istanbul.

Turkey: What Price Will Ankara Pay for Downing Russian Fighter?

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