Russia-Turkey Thaw to Withstand Assassination of Envoy

  • Ambassador Karlov shot on eve of meeting in Moscow on Syria
  • ‘Terrorism won’t succeed,’ Russian Foreign Ministry says

Ankara Mayor Reports Police Officer Killed Russian Envoy

The assassination of Russia’s ambassador to Turkey won’t derail the improvement in relations between the two countries since a crisis over the war in Syria a year ago, according to politicians and analysts in Moscow.

“There won’t be a new chill in the relationship between Moscow and Ankara,” because of the murder of Andrey Karlov by a gunman in Ankara on Monday, Leonid Slutsky, head of the international affairs committee in Russia’s lower house of parliament, said on Rossiya 24 state television. Talks between Russia, Turkey and Iran over Syria planned for Tuesday in Moscow will proceed, he said.

The murder “will only bring Russia and Turkey closer together,” Elena Suponina, a senior analyst at the Russian Institute of Strategic Studies, which advises the Kremlin, said by phone. It shows “we have a common enemy -- terrorism -- and only by joining forces can we deal with this enemy,” she said.

Relations between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin have only recently been restored after plunging into crisis when Turkish jets shot down a Russian warplane near the border with Syria in November last year. Karlov’s killing comes days after one of Russia’s biggest victories since it joined the Syrian war last year in support of President Bashar al-Assad.

Assad’s army, with Russian air support, has retaken almost all of the city of Aleppo that was once Syria’s largest. Turkey, which has backed the rebels in Aleppo and elsewhere in Syria, has played a key role along with Russia in negotiating the ongoing evacuation of fighters and civilians.

Syria Talks

Erdogan called Putin after the assassination to share information, according to Turkey’s NTV television, which cited the Turkish president’s spokesman.

The foreign and defense ministers of Russia, Turkey and Iran are due to meet in Moscow to discuss Syria on Tuesday. They should push ahead on all the issues on their agenda and ensure stable relations between Russia and Turkey in memory of Karlov, Slutsky said.

The assassination “is a result of the political and media hysteria set off around Aleppo by Russia’s enemies,” Alexei Pushkov, chairman of the information committee in the upper house of parliament, wrote on Twitter. “This had nothing to do with the Turkish government,” Pushkov said on state television.

While Russia won’t put great public pressure on Erdogan because it doesn’t want to damage relations, “private discussions will be very tough and Turkey will be told they’ve crossed all possible lines,” Fyodor Lukyanov, who heads a Kremlin foreign-policy advisory panel, said by phone. The killing is evidence that internal tensions in Turkey are very high, he said.

The death was “a terrorist act,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters. “Terrorism won’t succeed. We will fight it resolutely,” she said.

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