How did Russo-Turkish tensions start?

Since the 24th of November, the world has followed Russo-Turkish tensions with a mixture of interest and fear. But who should be blamed for the tensions? The following article summarizes the most important events in Russo-Turkish relations from the 30th of September to the 24th of November. I believe that its necessary to report this timeline, to contrast the general belief that NATO and Turkey acted in an unpredictable way, with the explicit goal of provoking Russia.

This timeline is available on the website of the Institute for the study of War: http://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russo-turkish-tensions-start-russian-air-campaig.

30th Sept: RUSSIAN AIR CAMPAIGN IN SYRIA BEGINS. Russian aircraft based at Syria’s Latakia airfield hit targets in rebel-held towns in Homs and Hama Provinces. Targets included groups supported by the US.

2nd Oct. TURKEY ACCUSES RUSSIA OF TARGETING MODERATE OPPOSITION. Prime Minister Davutoglu says Russia is hitting the Free Syrian Army to ‘destroy the moderate opposition’ and bolster the Assad regime.

3rd Oct.RUSSIAN JETS VIOLATE TURKISH AIRSPACE TWICE. Russian fighter crosses into Turkish airspace, and MiG-29 aircraft (either Russian or Syrian) locked fire-control radars on Turkish F-16s.

5th Oct. NATO WARNS RUSSIA ABOUT VIOLATING TURKISH AIRSPACE. NATO holds emergency meeting about Russian violations of Turkish airspace. Turkey warns Russia that it might shoot down Russian aircraft in future.

6th Oct. RUSSIAN WARPLANES HARASS US AND TURKISH AIRCRAFT OVER SYRIA. Anti-aircraft missile systems in Syria locked fire-control radars on eight Turkish F-16s. US aircraft forced to re-route to avoid Russian planes in Syria.

10th, 11th of Oct. SYRIAN AIR DEFENSE HARASSES TURKISH AIRCRAFT. Syrian air defenses locked fire-control radars on seven Turkish F-16s on two separate occasions.

12th oct. RUSSIA ANNOUNCES ESCORTS FOR ITS BOMBERS IN SYRIA. Russia announces that advanced Su-30 air superiority fighters will accompany its attack aircraft, presumably to defend against coalition airplanes.

15th Oct. TURKISH AND RUSSIAN OFFICIALS DISCUSS AERIAL TENSIONS. Turkish official says Russian aircraft approached Turkish planes at dangerous distances 13 times since September 30 and Russia has provided no “adequate” explanation.

16th October 2015. TURKEY SHOOTS DOWN RUSSIAN DRONE OVER TURKEY. A Turkish jet downed a Russian drone that crossed from Syria into Turkey, according to an unnamed U.S. defense official. Meanwhile, Russia’s Ministry of Defense announced that all Russian planes had returned to Latakia Air Base after “completing combat operations” but said that Russian drones were still conducting surveillance operations. RUSSIA SAYS IT WILL STOP ESCORTING ITS ATTACK AIRCRAFT. Russia says its attack aircraft will fly solo again

Adding fuel to the fire of Syria

I have never been a huge fan of the Italian PM Matteo Renzi. Indeed, i always thought that he never challenged geopolitical issues from the right angle, the migration crisis in primis. On the other hand, i strongly believe that today, in regards to possibility of joining Syria air strikes, he said something very true:
“Four years of civil war in Libya show it was not a happy decision. Today there needs to be a different strategy”, “The one thing we cannot allow ourselves is a repeat of Libya.”

Italy is therefore not joining Syria air-strikes. And i couldn’t agree with Renzi more. Certainly, one could argue that something against terrorism has to be done. And indeed, the US-led coalition should do something. But bombing Syria is probably not the right thing to do at the moment, at least for two reasons. First of all, because this military intervention will not stabilize the country. A multitude of actors is already involved in the conflict in Syria. The use of western military power will (maybe) make the conflict end earlier, but will also preserve the religious, political and economic tensions that contributed to the outbreak of this conflict in Syria. Second, in this war every party involved has something to be blamed for. Contributing to the victory of one actor over the others means legitimizing its crimes. We should not forget that our goal, should always be the establishment of a true democratic government in Syria.

 

The European political coma

The emergence of the European block could have been the greatest challenge to the Hegemonic power, since the end of the cold war. Even if China’s economic growth has the potential to undermine the basis of the financial advancement of the US, it’s hard to think about any other actor in the world with the political potential of the European Union.

Nonetheless, the blend of intergovernmental and supranational power that characterizes the European Union, represents de facto the biggest limit of the Regional Block. Let’s be honest, recent geopolitical factors have further marked that the political intentions of the 28 are at least contrasting, and this manifests itself in the disintegration of a European common foreign policy. The first sign of that was the Migration Crisis and the issues related to the idea of redistributing the quotas of migrants. A further example is given by the economic sanctions against Russia, which are still widely criticized within countries that rely mainly on the export of goods and services to promote growth.  These two examples alone would be enough to declare the European political project, a failure. Now, consider the new aggressive foreign policy of Russia, the conflict in Syria and the attacks of Paris. Even before the terrorists attacks, the European positions in regards to an intervention in Syria were contrasting. Two weeks after the attacks, nothing has changed. Not even an attack to the heart of Europe contributed to the development of a common purpose.

On the other hand, one could say that Europe seems to share a common political view on the roughness of Israel, which led to suspension of diplomatic dialogue with the latter. However, in this case it was the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that instructed the Foreign Ministry on Sunday evening to suspend contacts with European Union representatives. The EU’s only stance was labeling products from the West Bank. As a matter of fact, when European Countries act as a single, they do it in view of the constraints imposed by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, rather than for an ideal concept of common purpose in Europe.

I’ve never liked Euro-skeptics. I truly believe that a Single Europe is possible and that a unified continent will make everyone better off. This is why i like to think about a coma, rather than a death of the European concept. However, it’s time for us to embark toward a new idea of Europe.