Killing of Russian envoy: What’s in store for Turkey-Russia relations?

What is important to understand in the face of this tragedy is the message the killers wanted to send

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On Monday evening, Russian ambassador to Turkey, Andrey Gennadyevich Karlov, was assassinated at an art exhibition in Ankara. The tragic event is bound to have important implications on the Turkish-Russian relations, which have in any case been floundering in recent years.

What is important to understand in the face of this tragedy is the message the killers wanted to send. Statements from Turkish and Russian officials continue to pour in and it is still too early to suggest a definite motive behind this act of terrorism.

Also read: All you need to know on the gunman who killed the Russian ambassador

Turkish Prime Ministry and Ministry of Foreign Affairs has condemned the attack and assured their Russian counterparts to investigate the incident in the shortest possible time. According to statements issued by the Minister of the Interior of Turkey, the person responsible for the incident was a member of the Turkish police force.

Of course, this does not mean that the objective behind the attack and the planners has been unearthed and only an in-depth investigation can get to the bottom of the conspiracy. The words that the attacker shouted following the attack suggest that it was definitely related to Syria.

After the Russian and Iranian-backed groups seized Aleppo, a growing anger has been sensed among Syrian opposition groups, especially the radical elements, against Russia. This increases the possibility that such there was a plan in place to target Russia’s diplomatic representations in countries of the region.

The fact that this has happened on the eve of the meeting scheduled in Moscow between Russian, Turkish and Iranian foreign ministers, suggests that this could be a provocation to hamper such talks.

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According to local reports, President Erdogan talked to Putin following the incident. The first task for Turkish officials would be to prevent Turkish-Russian relations from plunging further in the aftermath of this incident.

However, notwithstanding their efforts, it seems, we are in for another spell of uncertain times in an already uneasy relationship.
Bayram Aliyev is a Research Fellow at Bilgesam (Wise Men Center for Strategic Studies) and a PhD Candidate at Istanbul University.

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