Staunton, November 25 – The shooting down of a Russian military plane by Turkish forces after the Kremlin ignored repeated warnings from Ankara not to violate Turkey’s airspace not only increases the risks of a clash between Russia and the West but has serious consequences for Putin at home, in Central Asia and the Caucasus, and in Ukraine.
The consequences inside Russia could prove to be the most fateful. While Vladimir Putin has ratcheted up the bellicosity of the government-controlled media in response to what Turkey has done, the steps he has taken simultaneously annoy Russians — now, they won’t be able to vacation in Turkey — but highlighted how isolated Russia is and how few levers its possesses.
Any Russian move against Turkey militarily or via hybrid war involving the Kurds would backfire. On the one hand, Turkey is a NATO member and can count on Article 5 guarantees. And on the other, Ankara could end Russia’s hopes for a pipeline west and even block the straits to Russian shipping; and any Russian support for the Kurds would undermine Syria’s Asad.