Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey

Relations between Turkey and Russia will remain strained

Editor-in-chief of the journal Russia in Global Affairs talks about the unfolding incident involving intercepted Syrian aircraft.

by Margarita Polianskaia, Kommersant FM

Last week, Turkish Air Force fighters forced an Airbus A-320 that was flying from Moscow to Damascus to land for inspection on suspicion of carrying illegal cargo. After inspection at the airport in Ankara, the Turkish police seized communications equipment, radios and jammers (signal blocker equipment).

According to the spokesman of Russian diplomacy, Aleksandr Lukachévitch, Russia demanded explanations from Ankara for intercepting the Syrian plane, endangering the 17 Russian passengers present on the aircraft.

In an interview with the FM radio station Kommersant, the chief editor of the magazine Russia in Global Affairs, Fyodor Lukianov, made comments about the controversy.

Kommersant FM: Is it true that there was indeed military equipment on board the Syrian aircraft?

Fyodor Lukianov: I have no information to say anything, but Turkey says yes. The Russian side says nothing concrete about it, but I do not discount the possibility. However, intercepting a commercial flight and forcing the aircraft to land without being sure of what it really carries, on the pretense of something illegal, is a very serious issue.

 K.FM: The Turkish Air Force had the right to intercept and inspect the Syrian aircraft?

FL: No. Even if Turkey had information that the aircraft was carrying military cargo, Syria is not subject to international sanctions. I mean, international sanctions universally approved and confirmed by the UN Security Council, and not those imposed unilaterally by the EU or the U.S. Therefore, Turkey had no legal right to do so. And Russia will naturally draw attention to this fact.

K.FM: How far will the relations between Turkey and Syria, and between Turkey and Russia, change after the fact?

FL: I think, from now on, relations between Turkey and Russia will become more strained. Everything will depend on whether the two countries will want to further aggravate the conflict, but I do not think that is the case. Turkey is interested in Russia.

Until recently, it seemed that the major differences between the two countries regarding the Syrian issue would not affect bilateral relations, and the two countries have managed to separate one thing from another. Unfortunately, now the situation has changed. Turkey is very involved in the internal conflict in Syria.

The Syrian problem is no longer regional, but has turned Turkish also, because the territories along the Turkish border came to be controlled by the militant Kurdish Labour Party (PKK), and not by the Syrian government. For Turkey, this is a real threat, because their "enemies" can create advanced outposts near the border as well.

Translated from the Portuguese version by:

Lisa Karpova
Pravda.Ru