Russia has started to take action against Turkey in the aftermath of the Turkish decision to shoot down a Russian fighter jet in Syria. Russia has begun detaining and deporting people in Russia who have Turkish citizenship, and economic sanctions have been imposed on Turkey. Additionally, charter flights between the countries have been banned.
After the plane was shot down, Russian President Vladimir Putin promised that “serious consequences” would soon follow. Members of Russia’s large Turkish community and Turkish visitors have been greatly harassed in the process. Russian police officers have even been swearing and spitting at the Turks. Currently, about 80,000 Turkish citizens reside in Russia.
Additionally, many Turkish citizens have been experiencing excessive document inspections and other bureaucratic hassles. Last week, the Turkish embassy in Russia was vandalized with eggs, paint and stones. The situation has gotten so bad that Turkish officials have filed a formal complaint.
Economic measures have been taken as well. Russia has banned the import of Turkish fruits and vegetables, and the country has abandoned many important collaborative energy schemes and construction projects that it had been working on with Turkey. But perhaps most troubling for Turkey is the banning of charter flights between the countries. Last year, more than 4.4 million Russians visited Turkey. Now, Russian citizens have been advised not to visit the country.
Although both Russia and Turkey have stated that they do not want to further escalate the situation, there has been little action taken to reconcile their differences. Turkish President Erdoğan did try to call Putin after the plane was shot down, but Putin refused to answer the phone. Erdoğan also tried to setup a meeting with Putin at the United Nations Climate Summit in Paris, but he was once again snubbed. Putin has stated that he will only speak to Erdoğan when the Turkish President is willing to apologize, but Erdoğan has said that he will not do that. So instead, the two men will continue to act like passive aggressive children in the middle of an argument.
While Putin and Erdoğan continue to have their disagreement, thousands of Turks in Russia are suffering. Recently an online petition has been sent to top Russian officials demanding that the Russian media cease the “propaganda of national hatred” towards the Turkish people. The petition has attracted more than 2,000 signatures. Russian media has recently been labelling Turkey as a supporter of ISIS and claiming that the country wants to rebuild the Ottoman Empire.
Time will tell if the two sides will be able to settle their issues before the situation grows even worse.