Russia orders new sanctions against Turkey

Russian President Vladimir Putin is ordering sanctions against Turkey in retaliation for Turkey shooting down a Russian warplane on Tuesday. Turkey says the Syria-bound Russian plane had entered the country’s airspace without permission. Now, Russia will restrict the import of certain Turkish goods and prohibit travel agencies from selling tours to Turkey. Kimberly Marten, professor at Barnard College, joins Hari Sreenivasan for more analysis.

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    Russian President Vladimir Putin is ordering sanctions against Turkey in retaliation for Turkey shooting down a Russian warplane on Tuesday. Turkey contended the Syria-bound Russian plane had entered Turkey's airspace without permission. The act already prompted Russia to deploy surface-to-air missiles inside Syria to protect its aircraft carrying out airstrikes in Syria.

    Now, Russia will restrict the import of certain Turkish goods and prohibit travel agencies from selling tours to Turkey.

    Earlier today, Turkish President Recep Erdogan expressed regret for shooting down the Russian plane.


    We are really saddened by this incident. We wouldn't have wished this to happen, but unfortunately it did. I hope this will not happen again. Turkey has never been in favor of triggering tensions and clashes, and we never will be.


    Joining me now to discuss Russia's economic response is Kimberly Marten, a professor at Barnard College, Columbia University here in New York.

    Why this back and forth? Why this escalation on the part of Russia and really attempted de-escalation on the part of Turkey?


    Well, Turkey isn't de-escalating as much as they could. It's quite clear that they did not follow standard practice in shooting down that Russian plane. They might have given some verbal warning but they could have escorted the plane to try to get it off of Turkish territory. They could have fired warning shots.

    So, you know, Turkey is not the victim here. And I think that it's not surprising that Russia is very angry about what's happening. But Putin is sort of following his normal pattern of being more angry than he needs to be and of taking more extreme action than he needs to take in response.


    Most in the U.S. don't realize how close and how connected Russia and Turkey are. I mean, as I was reading this, this is one of the biggest destinations for Russians to get out of country.


    Yes, huge tourist destination, a lot of trade. But it's really kind of surprising that Putin's reaction has been that we're going to have all these very strong economic sanctions put into place against Turkey. And you sort of wonder, who is left to be trading with Russia? Russia has put sanctions against the European Union. Now they have sanctions against Turkey. Where are their friends, exactly?

    It seems like their only friends at this point are, you know, Syria and Iran.


    So, this could have a ripple effect on the Russian economy, which isn't doing too great.


    In fact, the former prime minister of Russia made that point publicly saying this is not going to be good for the Russian economy. It's going to hurt the Russian economy as badly as the Turkish economy. The Russian economy was already in a recession primarily because of low oil prices. It just seems like Putin expresses anger in ways that actually shoot Russia in the foot.


    Turkey has a lot to lose in this relationship. They need all of the energy they get from Russia.


    They do. They have a huge amount of natural gas that they are importing from Russia. There was supposed to be a new pipeline that was going to go into effect to allow Russia to bypass Ukraine in its gas exports to Europe that now seems like it's on the rocks. Although, people realize that wasn't very profitable anyway, and so, that may have been an excuse to get around it.

    It also seems like they might lose grain imports from Russia and Ukraine is stepping in saying, "Hey, Turkey, if you need grain, we're here. We'll help you." It actually could cement further trade relations between Ukraine and Turkey, and Turkey and its European partners.

    And, you know, what Putin seems to be doing over and over again is just driving more and more opponents to have common interests against what he's doing.


    And let's talk a little about the Russians seem to be targeting Turkish anti-Assad forces, right? And really, in the last couple of days after the downing of this jet, they seem to intensify those attacks.


    And in a sense, that's not completely new because we know that for the last couple of months that Russia has been on the ground in Syria, they have not primarily been going after Islamic State targets. So, these people that are being hit now were people being hit earlier, too.

    But, yes. I mean, that's part of the retaliation. Rather than what you — you know, what would be the sensible think of the Russian plane should avoid the Turkish border and therefore, we'll try to back up a little bit. It seems like Putin is saying send the planes right into the Turkish border area and hit against the Turkmen groups that Turkey is cooperating with the most in Syria.


    What is the U.S. role in all of this? We need Turkey right now. Their airbase helps us get off the ground towards bombing runs in Syria much easier, right? I mean, there's lots of other interest that we have in Turkey for the region. But how do we help negotiate this fight?


    It's very complicated because the U.S. is also giving support to Kurdish rebels in Syria, and Turkey is having problems with its own Kurdish populations and has been trying to restrict the ability of its own Kurdish population to help the Kurdish rebels in Syria. And so, the U.S. and Turkish interests are not completely aligned either.

    And so, the entire situation is extraordinarily complex. It doesn't break down easily into any one set of alliances.


    All right. Kimberly Marten of Barnard College and Columbia University — thanks so much for joining us.


    Thank you, Hari.

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