The world just got more dangerous. A gunman shot and killed the Russian ambassador to Turkey and then stood over his body, shouted “Allahu Akhbar” and began ranting about Syria and Aleppo. I won’t embed video of the shooting, but you can see the entire thing here. Warning, the footage is extremely disturbing.
Early reports are often wrong, but it appears the shooter was a Turkish police officer:
According to reports the assasin of the Russian ambassador is indeed a security personnel and his name is Mert Altintas pic.twitter.com/lBezzoIMWV— Ali Hashem علي هاشم (@alihashem_tv) December 19, 2016
We can’t forget that this incident comes just a little more than a year after Turkish forces shot down a Russian jet, and it comes after Erodgan has comprehensively purged Turkish security forces to allegedly leave only his loyalists on staff.
It would be foolish to spend too much time speculating about the immediate and short-term consequences, but it is simply a fact that this is a grave breach of Turkey’s responsibilities to Russia (at the very least), and if there was any official Turkish involvement in the shooting beyond the shooter’s own initiative, then the breach grows graver still.
Turkey and Russia have a long history of armed conflict, fighting multiple major wars before the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, and there is little trust or love between these two nations. Complicating matters immensely, Turkey is a NATO ally — an ally whose leader has been steadily shedding the nation’s secular identity for more than a decade. It’s little wonder that a member of his security services may well have been radicalized.
All eyes now shift to Russia. After the Turkey shot down the Russian jet, he imposed punitive sanctions and ultimately extracted a groveling apology from Erdogan. This situation is potentially far more serious. Expect Putin to react accordingly.