There were initial worries that the assassination would lead to a break between Russia and Turkey, but Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke by phone and reportedly agreed to cooperate in investigating the killing, and in combating terrorism broadly. The shooting was aimed at “disrupting the peace process in Syria that is being actively advanced by Russia, Turkey and Iran,” Putin saidlate Monday. “There can be only one answer to this - stepping up the fight against terrorism, and the bandits will feel this.”
Russian warplanes have operated with the regime in Syria to pound civilian targets -- especially in Aleppo -- since September 2015. Airwars, a group that monitors reports of civilian casualties in Iraq and Syria, estimates that Russian airstrikes in and around Aleppo killed over 1,000 civilians in November alone.
Turkey and Russia, whose up-and-down relationship has helped shape the Syrian war and the many related crises, shared a new trauma on Monday after a Turkish gunman assassinated Russia’s ambassador at an art gallery in the Turkish capital, Ankara. – New York Times
A team of Russian detectives arrived in Turkey early Tuesday to assist with the investigation into the killing of Russia’s ambassador by a Turkish police officer, an act leaders in both countries said was an effort to rupture a rapprochement between the two regional powers as they try to reach an accommodation over Syria’s civil war. – Washington Post
Merve Tahiroglu writes: Both Ankara and Moscow will likely downplay Monday’s attack to maintain the ties they only re-established in June. But it is clear now that the Turkish and Russian people have not forgotten the rhetoric of their governments from the period when ties were strained. As Monday’s assassination underscores, that mutual animosity will be harder to sweep under the rug than Erdogan and Putin might hope. – Foundation for Defense of Democracies
Burhan Ozbilici writes: The event seemed routine, the opening of an exhibit of photographs of Russia. So when a man in a dark suit and tie pulled out a gun, I was stunned and thought it was a theatrical flourish. Instead, it was a coolly calculated assassination, unfolding in front of me and others who scrambled, terrified, for cover as the trim man with short hair gunned down the Russian ambassador. – Associated Press
Sean McMeekin writes: The brutal murder of the Russian Ambassador in Ankara in mid-speech on live video by a Turkish national screaming “Allahu Akhbar” is the stuff of geopolitical nightmares. Parallels to the Sarajevo outrage of June 1914 come easily to mind. – American Interest
Leon Aron writes: In this installment, I explore the domestic impact of Russia’s involvement in Syria’s civil war and the strategies deployed by the Russian authorities to contain these effects. I sketch a few other tendencies that might energize and expand the Russian Muslim radical fringe. – War on the Rocks