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The Russia-Turkey Spat: The Big Picture

Not too long ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, seen here at the G20 summit in mid November, seemed to have great chemistry, but the ongoing Syrian civil war has proven the undoing of their friendship. (Photo: Russian President Press Service)

The past, in particular a shared desire to right perceived historical wrongs, is making it more difficult for Turkey and Russia to smooth over their present differences.
 
Turkish-Russian relations have been in a tailspin since the late November shoot-down of a Russian fighter by Turkish jets. Given the current level of rancor, a relatively minor slip could turn the diplomatic spat into a major international crisis. Recent incidents in the Aegean and Black seas involving Russian warships and Turkish commercial vessels underscore the high degree of existing tension. In an interview with the Italian daily Corriere della Sera published December 15, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu called on Russia to take steps to deescalate tension. “There is a limit to our patience,” Cavusoglu was quoted as saying.
 

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Igor Torbakov is Senior Fellow at Uppsala University and at Södertörn University, Stockholm, Sweden.

The Russia-Turkey Spat: The Big Picture

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