Russian Ambassador Murdered in Turkey

In November 2015 I wrote a post about how Russia ought to tread a little more carefully now they had decided to get embroiled in Middle East conflicts.  My post came shortly after a Russian passenger plane had seemingly been bombed on its way to Saint Petersburg from Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt, and I said:

It ought not to have escaped Putin’s attention that while he envied America’s occupying the role of sole global superpower, as with all superpowers before them this position comes at a price.

It has taken a while, but Americans have slowly hardened up to this.  Getting anywhere near an American embassy – even in a benign location like Singapore – is extremely difficult these days, and American companies, businessmen, and tourists are flooded with security advice which has led to an overall heightened awareness.

One would hope that Putin thought about this before he intervened with great fanfare in Syria, but in doing so he has now opened up Russia to terrorist attacks by the most fanatical people on the planet.  At home, Russia is probably geared up to deal with this: they inherited the security apparatus from the Soviet Union and have plenty of experience dealing with Chechen terrorism over the years, albeit with mixed results at first.  But abroad, Russia must look like a very ripe target for jihadists based overseas.  I’ve walked past Russian embassies and they are often protected by a crumbling breeze-block wall with a rusty coil of barbed wire fastened on top.

For the first time in a long time, Russians are now seen as the bad guys by a whole swathe of the Middle East, and among their ranks are no shortage of nutcases – including ISIS.

If it turns out this Russian plane was indeed brought down by a bomb put aboard in Sharm el-Sheikh airport (a soft target if there ever was one), then there will probably be more such attacks, and Russia is ill-equipped to prevent them.

I post this now because this story is breaking:

A gunman has shot dead Russia’s ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov, apparently in protest at Russia’s involvement in the Syrian conflict.

Several other people were reportedly also injured in the attack, a day after protests in Turkey over Russia’s military intervention in Syria.

The camera pulls back to show a smartly dressed gunman, wearing a suit and tie, waving a pistol and shouting.

He can be heard yelling “Don’t forget about Aleppo, don’t forget about Syria” and uses the Arabic phrase “Allahu Akbar” (God is great).

I don’t think I can add much to what I’ve already said, other than there is no way an American ambassador would be in a room with people who haven’t gone through a metal detector and been screened for weapons.

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6 thoughts on “Russian Ambassador Murdered in Turkey

  1. There was also an ongoing string of politically motivated murders in Turkey apparently done by Russian hitmen:
    http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-38294204
    One would do no wrong in thinking Turkish security apparatus is not happy about that, and giving the extent of the links they have in Central Asia for historical and ethnical reasons it would be easy for them to arrange a reaction.

  2. Tim,

    As far as i recall, in the past when Soviet Union was still present and involved in Mideast, many analysts explained the lack of attacks to Soviet assets and personnels on two factors, first the willingness to get even not only with the perpetrators but also to their immediate family, and secondly the supposedly careful cultivation of ties and favours with nearly all the factions there, compared to the American way of choosing a single, seemingly affidable/poweful faction and support it until viable. That reaulted in more lax security arrangements compared to those undertaken by US embassies and interests.
    Putin seems keen to restore old Soviet influence and prestige in the region, but compared to the old times, Russians must work harder since American influence collapse in the region puts them in their same situation to choose suitable factions to support among countless ones, and is still to be seen how they will handle the possible bad consequence of their choices.

  3. Marostegan,

    That’s interesting, particularly as to why the Russian security is more lax than that of the Americans.

    I read about the Russian hitmen in Turkey last week but didn’t make the connection. And of course, there is also speculation that some of the terrorist attacks in Turkey were carried out by radicalised “Russians”, although this is usually a lazy, catch-all term for citizens of former Soviet states.

  4. It’s started, the supposition that this might be the retaliation that that vacuous chump O threatened.

    Bluster for domestic consumption: the Russians aren’t stupid enough to believe this.

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