Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov has been shot dead in Ankara.
A gun-wielding man burst into the hall of the Modern Art Gallery and opened fire at a Russian diplomat, while the latter was several minutes into his speech and was about to finish his remarks at the opening of a photo exhibition titled “Russia Through Turks’ Eyes”. As some footage of the attack showed, the attacker fired several shots. Andrei Karlov died of his wounds.
Russia qualifies it as a terrorist attack. “The murderers will be punished,” said Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.
“Today this issue will be raised at the UN Security Council”, she said. “Terrorism will not win out. We will resolutely fight terrorism.”
Politanalitika.ru asked Vladimir Avatkov, Director of the Centre of Oriental Studies, International Relations and Public Diplomacy, who knew Andrei Karlov, to comment on the situation:
– The attack on the Russian ambassador is a crime which, above all, was committed at a particularly delicate moment as the most critical issues in Russian-Turkish relations are being considered. A trilateral meeting of Russian, Turkish and Iranian officials is due on Tuesday. Nowadays a new format of regional cooperation in Syria, as well as geopolitical and security cooperation, is taking shape.
Well, as a matter of fact, an attack on an ambassador is an unprecedented case, fraught with pitfalls and arrogance. It may have been a provocation carried out by those who have always sought to drive a wedge between Russia and Turkey, for example, the United States, or forces affiliated with Fethullah Gülen, a Turkish US-based public intellectual on whom President Erdoğan blamed the recent coup attempt.
This connection cannot be neglected. At the same time, it is not impossible that Turkish nationalists may have assassinated Russia’s ambassador. Turkey has recently faced a great number of terror attacks.
In this regard, it is vital to remember about the responsibility for the provision of diplomats’ security which the host country is charged with. Although the Russian embassy is properly protected, the Turkish side should also have ensured security at the art exhibition. Amid instability spilling over into the country, the security of foreign diplomatic personnel should be a priority for the Turkish government.
Russia’s ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov was an experienced and skilled diplomat. His death will cast another shadow on Russia-Turkey relations. Actually, the history of our relationship has been replete with too many negative developments. Now that the two countries are seeking to focus on positive scenarios of development, the Turkey shooting may severely undermine Moscow’s and Ankara’s efforts to this end.
Undoubtedly, Russia and Turkey have opposing views on Syria. However, compromises and substantial agreements have lately started to take shape between Turkey and Russia.
The terror attack may be related to the two countries’ differences. I want to remind you of the recent anti-Russian protests at our Consulate in Istanbul. I hope that those protests were a mere provocation. If Russia’s and Turkey’s divergent views have caused the ambassador’s murder, what rapprochement can we talk about at all?