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NATO-Russia Relations Vital for Syria Civil War Resolution, Peace in Europe

© AFP 2022 / JOHN THYSThe NATO emblem is seen before a defence ministers meeting at the NATO headquarters in Brussels on October 22, 2013
The NATO emblem is seen before a defence ministers meeting at the NATO headquarters in Brussels on October 22, 2013 - Sputnik International
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NATO has been calling for the de-escalation of tensions between Ankara and Moscow over the downing of a Russian Su-24 bomber by Turkey, as the Alliance and Russia’s constructive relations are necessary to maintain peace in Europe and resolve the four-year civil war in Syria, experts told Sputnik on Thursday.

Turkish Air Force F-16 - Sputnik International
Make No Mistake: Su-24 Downing by Turkey a 'Clear Act of War' – US Author
MOSCOW (Sputnik) — On Tuesday, a Russian Su-24 jet crashed in Syria. Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the plane was downed by an air-to-air missile launched by a Turkish F-16 jet over Syrian territory, falling 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) from the Turkish border, and called it a "stab in the back." Following the extraordinary meeting on the Russian plane crash, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg offered support for Ankara and said the issue should be resolved bilaterally between Ankara and Moscow, and called for calm and de-escalation.

"It’s clear that Turkey and other NATO countries have been aiming at de-escalation of the situation after the downing. Also, NATO support for defense of Turkish sovereignty does not mean there’s the same uniform NATO support for Turkish policy inside Syria: this is an area in which allies have different views," Research Director for European Leadership Network (ELN) think-tank Lukasz Kulesa said.

Russian Defense Ministry building at Frunzenskaya Embankment in Moscow - Sputnik International
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According to Kulesa, the Alliance would be supportive of any other member state, which claimed its borders were violated, in accordance with the right of defending territorial integrity.

However, NATO’s restrained response to the incident was "wise" considering a rising terror threat in Syria and along its borders, as well as Russia’s crucial role in a complex international fight against the Islamic State jihadist group operating in the region, an analyst on NATO issues from the University of Amsterdam argued.

"NATO-Russia relations are complicated, but they are also vital for a constructive approach not only to the Syria question, but also peace in Europe," Ruud van Dijk told Sputnik, referring to issues unrelated to the situation in the Middle East, such as Ukraine.

Van Dijk explained that due to many countries being involved in the current Syrian crisis, "the margin for error narrows quickly" as a result of numerous miscommunications and misunderstandings between the states.

"The incident earlier this week was less about NATO-Russian relations than about the dangers inherent in the current situation in Syria. Everyone involved shares the responsibility," the Amsterdam university expert added.

The ELN research director reasoned NATO-Russia relations would remain tense, but hoped the conflict would be better managed.

"I hope that the Russian leadership notices that NATO is not interested in escalating the situation further, and seems ready to engage constructively in confidence-building measures with Russia, including procedures to deal with accidents and incidents," Kulesa concluded.

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