19:12 GMT25 October 2020
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    Russia and Turkey have reached an agreement on ensuring flight safety over Syria as both countries are conducting military operations aimed at destroying radical groups active in the war-torn country. The document will make these counterterrorism campaigns more efficient, political analyst Alexander Perendzhiev told RIA Novosti.

    Perendzhiev, a lecturer at the Plekhanov Russia University of Economics, referred to the document as a "meaningful legal step" which both countries made with regard to joint activities in Syria, adding that it sets clear rules aimed at preventing aerial incidents from taking place.

    In particular, the deal "will help to avoid" incidents like the downing of a Russian Su-24 bomber in late 2015. On November 24, the Turkish Air Force shot down the Russian aircraft which was on an anti-Daesh mission over Syria, citing airspace violations. The Russian Defense Ministry later released evidence showing that the plane had not crossed into Turkey. The incident sent relations between the two countries into a deep freeze. The bilateral relationship was restored after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan apologized to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    "This memorandum confirms that Turkey acknowledges that similar incidents should not take place," Perendzhiev observed.

    The Russian Defense Ministry unveiled the agreement last week, saying that the Turkish delegation traveled to Moscow to sign the memorandum.

    Retired Lieutenant General Evgeny Buzhinsky, who headed the International Treaty Directorate at the Russian Defense Ministry, noted that the deal between Russia and Turkey has a higher chance of succeeding than a flight safety agreement between Moscow and Washington.

    In 2015, "we reached a similar agreement with the United States, although it does not work sometimes. The deal signed with Turkey has a higher chance of success" since Moscow and Ankara enjoy a working relationship, while Russia's relations with the US are strained at the moment, he explained.

    Both experts indicated that the document will have a positive impact on counterterrorism efforts in Syria.

    Perendzhiev suggested that the document shows that both Russia and Turkey are determined to defeat radical groups in Syria. The deal will also help Russia decrease its military presence in the embattled Arab country since Turkey's operation complements Russia's efforts, he added.

    Buzhinsky pointed to the issue of target distribution, saying that the deal will allow both countries to "strike significantly more targets by covering different areas" instead of "duplicating each other's efforts."

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    bilateral cooperation, counterterrorism, deal, flight safety, Syrian crisis, Syrian conflict, Syria, Turkey, Russia
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