While the Paris attacks prompted Russia and France to forge a European coalition against terrorism, the anti-terror fight received a setback after a Russian fighter jet was downed by NATO-member Turkey in an incident over the Syrian border last week. The Russia-Turkey conflict did nothing but renewed the rift between Russia and NATO.
Turkey says it shot down the plane in its airspace after the plane ignored repeated warnings. Russia says it was flying over Syria and was struck unprovoked. There have been 12 wars between Russia and Turkey over geopolitical disputes, with Russia vying for the control of the sea route to Mediterranean. Turkey joined the NATO after the Second World War fearing the Soviet Union would create disturbances in the Turkish Straits and is obliged to stay vigilant against Russia in case of any emergencies.
Vladimir Putin’s approach is in the same strain with the former Russian emperor Peter the Great and empress Catherine II. Putin’s annexation of Crimea opened its passage from Azov Sea to the Black Sea. To be a geopolitical power, the Mediterranean is the next prey on Russia’s hunt.
The anti-terror campaign offered Putin a golden opportunity to enter the Mediterranean, which is certainly not favored by the NATO members, especially Turkey. Russia and Turkey ostensibly diverged over the Syria issue, but the root cause of the conflicts is the rivalry between Russia and the West.
In the backdrop of combating terrorism and maintaining world peace, Russia and Turkey should stop the “infighting”. For Russia, taking part in the anti-terror war cannot be a tool for its own geopolitical game. The anti-terror coalition will never become a reality if other countries’ interests are violated.
For the West, sitting for a dialogue with Russia is the best way to work out a feasible anti-terror strategy. Russia, with its Black Sea and Baltic ports blocked and Northern ports iced, has no choice but to cross the borders in countering terrorists. Therefore, NATO members and other countries need to reach a consensus on anti-terror cooperation with Russia to keep clear of unnecessary conflicts.
(The article is translated by Wu Jie.)