Putin vs Erdoğan – Who Wins?

 

In times of confused international crisis — say, when one party in a multi-sided war shoots down the warplane of another party — it is instructive to view the propaganda outlets. Which explains why I was watching the RT (formerly, Russia Today) coverage of Turkey’s downing of an Su-24 near the Turkish-Syrian border (on precisely which side is in dispute).

I was not surprised by the rather desultory protest outside the Turkish embassy. I was rather surprised to read that, according to RT, Putin said:

Turkey backstabbed Russia by downing the Russian warplane and acted as accomplices of the terrorists … the plane was targeting terrorist targets in the Latakia province of Syria, many of whom came from Russia.

Russia noticed of the flow of oil from Syrian territory under the control of terrorists to Turkey… Apparently, IS now not only receives revenue from the smuggling of oil, but also has the protection of a nation’s military. … This may explain why the terrorist group is so bold in taking acts of terrorism across the world …

The incident will have grave consequences for Russia’s relations with Turkey… Russia respects the regional interests of other nations, … the atrocity committed by Turkey would not go without an answer.

Now what?

Published in Foreign Policy
Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.

There are 38 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Austin Murrey Inactive
    Austin Murrey
    @AustinMurrey

    Good news! Now Obama can add “the destruction of NATO” to his resume – since he certainly won’t support Turkey against Russia.

    The question, I suppose, is what Russia will do about this; I suspect, although I confess I do not know, that Turkey was perfectly justified in shooting down the Russian fighter since Putin has made it a point to push at everyone seeing how much he can grab due to the fecklessness of his regional opponents.

    The problem is that Erdogan seems to be not a Western leader but a sort of standard Middle Eastern strongman and for strongmen showing weakness would expose them to attacks from their internal opponents.

    I’m sure Claire can shed more light on this, of course, but my prediction is that we’ll see a lot of saber rattling and very little direct action unless a second fighter intrudes into Turkish airspace and gets shot down.

    • #1
  2. Richard Harvester Inactive
    Richard Harvester
    @RichardHarvester

    I heard that Turkey and Russia actually disagree on the border. Russia thinks part of Turkey is Syria. So as far as Russia was concerned, they were in Syria even though Turkey thinks otherwise.

    It is also becoming increasingly apparent that Turkey is an ally of ISIS. Erdogan seems to have picked up every little Sunni terror group into his little party. So I have little sympathy for the Turks here.

    Of course, the Russians seem to make an enemy of every Sunni terror group with their ‘indelicate’ tactics.

    It just seems natural that Turkey and Russia – once again – go at it.

    They’ve only done it like 12 times – they’re due for a repeat.

    • #2
  3. lesserson Member
    lesserson
    @LesserSonofBarsham

    I too will be interested to hear what Claire has to say about this. This is between two leaders who are not as likely to flinch when backed into a corner. Turkey is strategic to NATO, but it also seems to me to be the weak link (outside of our CiC) in that they a less and less aligned ideologically to NATO but still have the ability to trigger article 5.

    • #3
  4. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    What if a conflict with Turkey is actually desired, in order to wrest concessions yielding control of access to the Black Sea?  Obviously, Constantinople is (likely) not on the table, but a few Gibraltar-esque outposts should do it.

    Hmm.

    • #4
  5. ctlaw Coolidge
    ctlaw
    @ctlaw

    I thought the Latakia area was not an ISIS front but a front between Assad and non-Isis rebels.

    • #5
  6. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    By the way, Putin wins, of course — that’s his policy.

    • #6
  7. Manny Coolidge
    Manny
    @Manny

    This has the potential to really explode.  I don’t know what to make of it yet.  A lot I bet depends on Putin.  He could take this as a casus belli.  or he could shrug it off as a pilot error and miscommunication.

    • #7
  8. lesserson Member
    lesserson
    @LesserSonofBarsham

    Ball Diamond Ball:By the way, Putin wins, of course — that’s his policy.

    He’s so not 21st century…   /sarc

    • #8
  9. jetstream Inactive
    jetstream
    @jetstream

    What kinds of Turkish naval vessels could Russian submarines sink?

    • #9
  10. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    jetstream
    What kinds of Turkish naval vessels could Russian submarines sink?

    All of them?

    • #10
  11. ctlaw Coolidge
    ctlaw
    @ctlaw

    This is not covered by NATO. Thus, it makes an interesting target for Putin.

    Neither is Northern Cyprus.

    • #11
  12. Quake Voter Inactive
    Quake Voter
    @QuakeVoter

    Putin doesn’t do “pilot error.”  Or make Jenkins’ Ear sneers either.  I wouldn’t expect any diplomatic Alphonse and Gaston resolution.  If the Turks had fired and missed, maybe there could be a bloodless resolution.

    Turkey’s membership in  NATO is as faithful as Bill’s marriage to Hilary.

    But as a source of 70 million new Muslim immigrants, via refugee status or expanded free movement of labor, they are key to Europe’s future.

    • #12
  13. Austin Murrey Inactive
    Austin Murrey
    @AustinMurrey

    Apparently there are reports that the Turks shot the pilots of the fighter after they’d ejected and shot down a search helicopter.

    Article V seems more likely to be invoked soon. Like Chamberlain, Obama seems to be wholly unprepared for unfolding events but sadly we cannot oust him as Britain could a Prime Minister.

    • #13
  14. Addiction Is A Choice Member
    Addiction Is A Choice
    @AddictionIsAChoice

    At least with the downing of that Russian passenger jet over Egypt there was a sort of particularized focus and perhaps even a legitimacy in terms of – not a legitimacy, but a rationale that you could attach yourself to, but THIS…

    • #14
  15. Cantankerous Homebody Inactive
    Cantankerous Homebody
    @CantankerousHomebody

    Is it confirmed that Turkey is the outlet for IS oil?  I’ve long suspected that was the case since every other country and nation in that area is at war with them.  I read that Turkey refuses to close the border to migrants seeking to join the IS.

    • #15
  16. ctlaw Coolidge
    ctlaw
    @ctlaw

    Cantankerous Homebody:Is it confirmed that Turkey is the outlet for IS oil? I’ve long suspected that was the case since every other country and nation in that area is at war with them. I read that Turkey refuses to close the border to migrants seeking to join the IS.

    Some. But most is domestically used.

    • #16
  17. Cantankerous Homebody Inactive
    Cantankerous Homebody
    @CantankerousHomebody

    ctlaw:

    Cantankerous Homebody:Is it confirmed that Turkey is the outlet for IS oil? I’ve long suspected that was the case since every other country and nation in that area is at war with them. I read that Turkey refuses to close the border to migrants seeking to join the IS.

    Some. But most is domestically used.

    oh! thanks! I’ve been wondering for so long how they got their oil out and to whom.

    • #17
  18. genferei Member
    genferei
    @genferei

    Austin Murrey: Apparently there are reports that the Turks shot the pilots of the fighter after they’d ejected and shot down a search helicopter.

    Turkmen – ethnic turkmen Syrians – not Turks, I think.

    • #18
  19. jetstream Inactive
    jetstream
    @jetstream

    Ball Diamond Ball:jetstream What kinds of Turkish naval vessels could Russian submarines sink? — All of them?

    WRT, Putin’s options of responding to to reported shoot down of a Russian fighter, kind of makes you go hmmmm.

    • #19
  20. genferei Member
    genferei
    @genferei

    17 seconds of encroachment, according to the Turks. (Excuse the Wikileaks link. The alternative was Al Jazeera.)

    • #20
  21. donald todd Inactive
    donald todd
    @donaldtodd

    Stay tuned.  This party is just getting started.

    I agree with the item above that says Barry will cut the ties to NATO if Turkey invokes the article demanding everyone comes to its aid.  Barry is not a consistent ally except when he wants something.

    If Turkey goes to war, what will Iran do?  One suspects that Iran’s hegemony for the region will grow.  Turkey goes down, perhaps at the hands of the Russians.  Are the Saudis next?  Jordan?  Egypt?  The Kurds?  What happens to the Kurds if Turkey is cooked?

    Israel has to be on the ledger but clearing the ground for that adventure is come first.

    We have a Chamberlain-like individual in the White House.  He’ll watch the situation deteriorate and smile.  A world at war won’t phase him.  He is busy wrecking this country first.

    World War III anyone?

    • #21
  22. genferei Member
    genferei
    @genferei

    Interestingly – and bearing in mind we’re talking about translations into English from two very different languages – the Turkish and Russian accounts may be consistent. Turkey says it fired at the Su-24 when it was in Turkish airspace. Russia says the plane was downed in Syrian airspace. I don’t know the flight time for whatever air-to-air missile was involved, but it is possible that the missile was launched while the Su-24 was in Turkey, but only hit when it was in Syria.

    Not that it isn’t a tragedy either way.

    • #22
  23. Quake Voter Inactive
    Quake Voter
    @QuakeVoter

    I realize we conservatives don’t have many memes that play as well as “Chamberlain.”  As short hand, or in political knifefighting, it’s a good tool.

    But identifying Chamberlain to Obama on any more thoughtful level is a grave error.  At least, Chamberlain held line in 1939 against Nazism, prepared the RAF for the fight, and was key to promoting Churchill and defeating the English surrender monkeys (they are a very widespread species).

    Switch Obama out and Chamberlain in the White House today?

    No-brainer for me.  And we straw men have very little brain.

    • #23
  24. Roberto Inactive
    Roberto
    @Roberto

    genferei:Turkey says it fired at the Su-24 when it was in Turkish airspace. Russia says the plane was downed in Syrian airspace. I don’t know the flight time for whatever air-to-air missile was involved, but it is possible that the missile was launched while the Su-24 was in Turkey, but only hit when it was in Syria.

    The radar imagery Turkey released of the engagement would seem to be consistent with this order of events, the incursion of Turkish airspace appears to have been very brief.

    _86847710_4244121f-6f25-419b-a113-d94603724eeb

    • #24
  25. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    What a mess! This was the danger of having Russia come in in the first place. This Syria thing just keeps sinking further and further into a morass of potentially epic proportions. No side can muster a clear advantage and that encourages these kind of confrontations, because the out come is unclear to all involved and everyone can talk themselves into thinking they can win. This would be removed by by having strong American leadership, but our sheepishness I think only provides everyone with more latitude and uncertainty.

    • #25
  26. jetstream Inactive
    jetstream
    @jetstream

    Roberto:

    genferei:Turkey says it fired at the Su-24 when it was in Turkish airspace. Russia says the plane was downed in Syrian airspace. I don’t know the flight time for whatever air-to-air missile was involved, but it is possible that the missile was launched while the Su-24 was in Turkey, but only hit when it was in Syria.

    The radar imagery Turkey released of the engagement would seem to be consistent with this order of events, the incursion of Turkish airspace appears to have been very brief.

    _86847710_4244121f-6f25-419b-a113-d94603724eeb

    All things considered, at this point in Russia’s military planning, sending a Russian bomber into Turkish airspace as a target seems unlikely. Based on zero actual knowledge, the most likely scenario is the Russian bomber was on a military mission against ISIS or ISIS clones and inadvertently entered Turkish airspace. During the Vietnam War American aircraft on occasion accidentally entered Chinese airspace.

    Most likely the Russian military will stay focused on military missions until they have won their strategic objectives in Syria. By then Putin should have multiple options to effectively respond to Turkey’s action against the Russian bomber. Hard to see why Russia would take precipitous action before they have the forces in place to prevail against Turkey.

    • #26
  27. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe
    @PaulARahe

    The Russians have been making incursions into the air space of nearly every member of NATO for some time now. Putin’s game is to make threatening noises and to try to play the bully. This is by no means the first such incursion into Turkish air space. My guess is that the Turks issued a warning: “Do it again, and we will act.” And that Putin foolishly called what he took to be a bluff. We would all be better off if the Russians got this treatment every time that they started playing these games.

    • #27
  28. CitizenOfTheRepublic Inactive
    CitizenOfTheRepublic
    @CitizenOfTheRepublic

    Paul A. Rahe:The Russians have been making incursions into the air space of nearly every member of NATO for some time now. Putin’s game is to make threatening noises and to try to play the bully. This is by no means the first such incursion into Turkish air space. My guess is that the Turks issued a warning: “Do it again, and we will act.” And that Putin foolishly called what he took to be a bluff. We would all be better off if the Russians got this treatment every time that they started playing these games.

    Or…we might be better off if we would make common cause with the Russians against Islamists everywhere.  But, you might recall, the Bush Administration (I seem to remember C. Rice giving voice to this) specifically excluded Chechen enemies of Russia from the list of unacceptable terrorists when our policy was to attack or support others in attacking muslim militants everywhere after September 11, 2001.  The Russians were asked to “show restraint.”

    The Obama Administration has clearly been doing little to nothing to actually stop ISIS from growing – only taking some action to stop the oil flow after Russia moved into Syrian in a big way.

    Do I want Assad Regimes brought down? – I had my whole life, as a supporter of Israel.  But, given the examples of all the other regimes the US has brought down, I changed my mind.  A stable state that can force multiple ethnicities to live together is better than the bloodbaths, Christian cleansings, and mass migrations we have now.
    The destruction of Baathist and other dictatorial regimes should have been openings to a better world, but it is clear that in this age, the United States of America is incapable to effectively administer  clients or build up friendly regimes in the muslim world.  INCAPABLE.  From a lack of civilizational/cultural confidence or whatever reason.  We have the evidence from Iraq, Libya, Egypt, Syria, etc.   Let us therefore change our goals and means to match our incapability to effect constructive radical change.

    To be clear, this is not something Obama is responsible for.  The Bush Administration was equally incompetent or rendered incompetent by the foolishness of current American popular and elite political culture with respect to human nature, history, culture, and how to make disparate peoples live together in peace.  We are forever stuck in the mistakes of the 60’s and 70’s – feteshizing our form over government and trying to recreate our stable system by exporting its forms in complete ignorance (apparently) that it is our culture not our particularly arrangements of governance that yield our stability.

    It is my hope that you and others I respect would take a step back from taking for granted that the Departments of State and Defense are telling the truth about the situation in Syria.  If one listens to their briefings – particularly with respect to Russia’s entry, it is clear that they are, at times, lying.

    • #28
  29. donald todd Inactive
    donald todd
    @donaldtodd

    Quake Voter:[I]dentifying Chamberlain to Obama on any more thoughtful level is a grave error. At least, Chamberlain held line in 1939 against Nazism, prepared the RAF for the fight, and was key to promoting Churchill and defeating the English surrender monkeys (they are a very widespread species).

    Chamberlain prepared Britain for the war to follow by his efforts to accommodate Hitler.  He had people who did not want to re-arm Great Britain and had no stomach for what would follow.  He had a sputtering economy.

    Yet we do elect people to stand for something and Chamberlain’s failure was not to stand for something.  He thought a piece of paper would suffice.  It did not.

    He had an aging military infrastructure, including that magnificent Navy, and if he actually had the foresight to begin rebuilding the Royal Air Force, it was a token move.  The RAF faced a German Luftwaffe that was about four times its size.  The RAF was so outgunned that an air marshal decided which German attacks would be met, and which would not.  Based on that, shipping in the English channel was left undefended.  Those sailors were on their own.

    Chamberlain’s efforts are rightly derided.  England became a second rate military power in part because of Chamberlain and men who thought like him.

    • #29
  30. ctlaw Coolidge
    ctlaw
    @ctlaw

    CitizenOfTheRepublic: The destruction of Baathist and other dictatorial regimes should have been openings to a better world, but it is clear that in this age, the United States of America is incapable to effectively administer  clients or build up friendly regimes in the muslim world.  INCAPABLE.  From a lack of civilizational/cultural confidence or whatever reason.  We have the evidence from Iraq, Libya, Egypt, Syria, etc.   Let us therefore change our goals and means to match our incapability to effect constructive radical change. To be clear, this is not something Obama is responsible for.  The Bush Administration was equally incompetent or rendered incompetent by the foolishness of current American popular and elite political culture with respect to human nature, history, culture, and how to make disparate peoples live together in peace.

    Making something of Syria was probably one of the 20 top wasted opportunities of the Obama administration. As you perhaps allude to, Clinton and Bush also did not take the opportunity, but did not trash it.

    The fall of the Soviet Union and an internationally ostracized Iran created an opportunity to tame the Assad regime. Instead, we basically let Iran pick up the post-Soviet pieces and run the show, fanning the Sunni-Shia divide in Lebanon and Syria.

    • #30
Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.