Hostility between Russia and Turkey is still simmering, as demonstrated by Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu accusing Russia of “trying to make ethnic cleansing in northern Latakia to force out all Turkmen and Sunni population who do not have good relations with the regime.”
“They want to expel them, they want to ethnically cleanse this area so that the regime and Russian bases in Latakia and Tartus are protected,” Davutoglu continued, as quoted by Reuters.
Reuters wonders if Davutoglu’s comments could further damage relations between his country and Russia. That is a safe bet, since no one likes being accused of ethnic cleansing. Also, the Turkmen issue is a very sharp point of division between the two countries. Turkey has a commitment to protect them, while Russia considers the Turkmen insurgents in Syria to be terrorists who might easily return to afflict Russia.
The Russians quickly lashed back at Turkey’s allegations. “It is strange to make such statements as they demonstrate the complete detachment of the Turkish leadership from reality, from what is actually happening in the region,” said Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova, as quoted by RT.com.
Zakharova also criticized Turkey’s recent military incursions into Iraq and needled NATO for good measure:
Judging by the reaction of some members of the UN Security Council, the actions of the Turkish military were a surprise even for its closest allies. Although thanks to the notorious block solidarity they refrained from critical comments directed at Ankara over those actions that blatantly violate international law. It is becoming increasingly clear that if there is one thing they know how to do collectively in NATO, it’s staying collectively silent.
“It’s almost impossible to understand when nations act as part of the coalition and when they act out of their private interests,” Zakharova concluded. “It would have been nice if the U.S. had explained to the world and other nations their concept of what the coalition is doing in the region.”
None of that really has anything to do with the question of how many bombs Russia has been dropping on the Turks, but the Turkey-Russia dispute has not settled enough for both sides to talk about the same things yet.