• Position : Professor
  • Affiliation : Department of Integrated Communications, The Higher School of Economics
  • Affiliation : Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
  • Affiliation : Senior Associate, Central Asia-Caucasus Institute and Silk Road Studies Program Joint Center, Johns Hopkins University
  • Position : Chairman of the Executive Board
  • Affiliation : PIR Center
complete list

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PIR Center experts on future of Russia-Turkey relations


MOSCOW, NOVEMBER 30, 2015. PIR-PRESS — “Russia has to rethink many things in relations with Turkey, including in terms of security. It would be extremely naive to assume that the new Turkish long-term development direction will manifest itself only in Syria” — Dmitry Evstafiev, member of PIR Center Executive Board, professor of the Higher School of Economics.

On November 24, 2015, Turkish fighter jet F-16 shot down a Russian Sukhoi Su-24M bomber aircraft. According to Turkish authorities, the Russian plane violated the airspace of the country near the Syrian border. The Russian Ministry of Defence denied that. On November 28, 2015, Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a decree on measures to ensure national security and the application of special economic measures against Turkey.

PIR Center experts comment on the development of relations between these countries under the new circumstances.

Speaking about the causes of the incident, Evgeny Buzhinskiy, Chairman of the Executive Board of  PIR Center,said: “While Russian Air Force was destroying training camps, command centers, supply depots, ammunition depots, [President of Turkey Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan gnashed his teeth, but endured that. When Russians began destroying tank trucks, oil smuggling infrastructure, he lost his nerve. There would be no regional security cooperation between Russia and Turkey until Turkey in any form expresses deep regret over this incident. But it also cannot cause break of diplomatic relations”.

Dmitry Evstafiev, PIR Center Executive Board member, agrees with Evgeny Buzhinskiy. Professor of Higher School of Economics notes that the response to Turkish actions will be severe. “Cleanup operation of all the organizations and institutions that are associated with Turkey, even if indirectly, is inevitable, and the heaviest, sometimes explicitly, measures will be applied. Needless to say the ISIS oil business will be finally and pointedly smashed” – the expert says.

According to professor, the only partly positive outcome of this situation is long-awaited clarity that has appeared. “Russia has to rethink many things in relations with Turkey, including in terms of security. It would be extremely naive to assume that the new Turkish long-term development direction will manifest itself only in Syria”, - Dmitry Evstafiev highlighted.

Full text of the comment is available at PIR Center website (in Russian).

Halil Karaveli, member of the PIR Center International Expert Group, Senior Associate at Central Asia-Caucasus Institute and Silk Road Studies Program Joint Center (Johns Hopkins University) suggests that Turkey is not going to do anything that provokes Russia more, and now it is after Moscow to decide, whether Russia  wants to escalate this or not. “I think, it would be very unwise, if Russia did that. Russia should realize that it is in Russia’s interests to have a continuing good relationship with Turkey. Escalation of the conflict will not only hurt potentially Russia’s position in Syria, it will also come at an economic cost to Turkey. Not only Turkey will be hurt if the economic relationship deteriorates, Russia itself also will be hurt by it. It is in my view it is not rational that Russia continues to increase tension, I think that the Russian government should decide to de-escalate this” — the expert concluded.

Evgeny Buzhinskiy argues that the joint infrastructure projects between the two countries are more important for Turkey than for Russia. According to him, the Turkish Stream became irrelevant after Gazprom signed an agreement on the Nord Stream-2. At the same time, Russia will not give up the construction of the Akkuyu NPP, the general said. “Since the project is very expensive, Turkey will pay a significant penalty, prescribed in the contract, if it cancels it” - Evgeny Buzhinskiy recalled.

Halil Karaveli considers that the conflict will be partly dealt with in a few days. He does not expect any irrational behavior from the Russian side. In addition, the expert notes that the incident could function as an encouragement to start talking for two great powers with conflicting interests in the region. “Basically, Russia wants to keep Assad in power, Turkey wants Assad away. That is their major difference and this has to be in some way recognized but they have to find ways of resolving this. I am not saying that this is going to be easy but they have to. We have different interests and we have to find a compromise solution in Syria. Otherwise, Syria will continue to suffer even more” — Halil Karaveli concludes.

For further information concerning the comments of PIR Center experts for mass media, please contact us by phone +7 (495) 987-19-15; fax: +7 (495) 987-19-14.