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    A serviceman of the Smetlivy anti-submarine ship of Russia's Black Sea Fleet

    Why is Turkish President Trying to 'Escalate Tensions' With Russia?

    © Sputnik / Gennadiy Dianov
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    The incident in the Aegean Sea, involving a Turkish fishing boat provoking a Russian warship, could have been viewed as an accident but in the wake of the Su-24 downing it should be considered a provocation, Col. Gen (Ret) Leonid Ivashov asserted.

    Why would Turkey need to escalate tensions with one of its major partners? In the expert's opinion, it all comes down to political benefits.

    Ankara, according to the expert, is trying to escalate tensions with Moscow to mobilize popular support at home and reinforce Turkey's ties with its allies in NATO. The latest incident was meant to help Ankara achieve this goal. 

    "I suppose the plan could have been designed by the Erdogan team to present Russia as an aggressor if the incident ended in a tragedy," Ivashov told REN TV, adding that Turkish authorities would have benefited from a deadly outcome.

    On Sunday, the Smetlivy guided missile destroyer, anchored not far from the Greek island of Lemnos, was forced to fire warning shots to avoid collision with the approaching seiner. The warning shots were fired as a measure of last resort since the Turkish fishing boat did not respond to attempts to make radio contact and ignored signal flares.

    The implications of the Aegean Sea incident could have been grave. If something happened to the Turkish seiner, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan could have felt empowered to make any decision he deemed necessary.

    Some of these measures could have been extreme. For instance, Erdogan could have opted for "closing the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits for the Russian ships," Ivashov noted.

    The Sunday incident is the latest in a string of international scandals Turkey has been embroiled in lately. These also include the downing of a Russian bomber in Syrian airspace and the so-called "invasion" of Iraq.

    A combination picture taken from video shows a war plane crashing in flames in a mountainous area in northern Syria after it was shot down by Turkish fighter jets near the Turkish-Syrian border November 24, 2015
    © REUTERS / Reuters TV/Haberturk
    A combination picture taken from video shows a war plane crashing in flames in a mountainous area in northern Syria after it was shot down by Turkish fighter jets near the Turkish-Syrian border November 24, 2015

    On November 24, a Turkish F-16 fighter jet shot down a Russian Su-24 bomber, citing airspace violation as the reason for the downing. Russian military officials offered evidence that the bomber had not crossed into Turkey, while the pilot confirmed that the crew did not receive any warnings from the Turkish Air Force.

    In early December, Turkish soldiers were deployed to the Iraqi province of Nineveh to allegedly train Kurdish Peshmerga fighters. The initiative was not authorized by Baghdad. Iraqi authorities urged Ankara to immediately pull out its forces, including tanks and artillery, from northern Iraq and refrain from similar actions in the future.

    Turkish Army tank stands ready near the village of Bamarni in northern Iraq, 30km beyond the Turkey-Iraq border
    © AP Photo / Sasa Kralj
    Turkish Army tank stands ready near the village of Bamarni in northern Iraq, 30km beyond the Turkey-Iraq border

    Related:

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    Russian MoD Summons Turkish Military Attache Over Incident in Aegean Sea
    Russian Frigate Uses Firearms to Prevent Collision With Turkish Vessel
    Western Media Readers on Aegean Sea Incident: 'Kick Turkey Out of NATO'
    Tags:
    provocation, politics, frigate Smetlivy, Downing of Russian SU-24, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey, Russia
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