The cold-blooded assassination of the Russian ambassador to Turkey by a rage-driven off-duty police officer has put spotlight on the new face of terror in the region, with Moscow declaring a war on terrorists and their co-conspirators.
The assassin, who has been identified as police officer Mevlut Mert Altintas, shouted “revenge” for the Russian offensive in Aleppo, imbuing the dramatic killing of Russian envoy Andry Karlov at an art exhibition in the Turkish capital on Dec 19 with political and ideological colouring. The assassination had initially sparked off anxieties about Russia-Turkish confrontation, but the two countries have so far managed to contain the damage, and in a deft diplomatic tightrope walk have gone ahead with the trilateral meeting of foreign ministers of Russia, Turkey and Iran on the Aleppo situation.
The dramatic assassination has predictably sparked outrage in Moscow. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has warned it will not make “concessions to terrorists” and underlined that Moscow will remain “determined to fight terrorism” after a meeting with his Turkish and Iranian counterparts on December 20. Both Russia and Turkey are hinting at “a Western conspiracy” behind the killing as Moscow sent an investigative team of Russia’s special agencies to Ankara to probe the killing. Turkey’s Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım spoke about “dark forces” behind the assassination. Russian President Vladmir Putin indicated that Karlov’s assassination was a “provocation” aimed at derailing Russia-Turkey ties.
If the aim of the assassin and his backers were to put Moscow and Ankara on a warpath, it seems that it was a wasted game as both countries have shown solidarity in the face of terror and have resorted to conspiracy theories. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called Mr Putin over the killing of Karlov and stressed that the two leaders had agreed that “our cooperation and solidarity fighting terrorism should be even stronger”.
“I believe this is an attack on Turkey, the Turkish state and the Turkish people, and also a clear provocation to Turkish-Russian relations. I am sure our Russian friends also see this fact,” said Mr Erdogan.
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