Following the assassination of Russia’s Ambassador to Ankara (Turkey) Andrey Karlov on December 19, 2016, Turkey finds itself anew in a very tense situation with Russia, just a little more than a year after a Turkish jetfighter took down a Russian one inside Syria’s airspace. If it’s too early to establish who’s responsible even though the attack was undoubtedly terroristic, there are Russian and Turkish officials who interpreted it as a direct attack against the common interests shared by the two countries.
Following the air clash that was serious enough to constitute a casus belli between Moscow and Ankara and after the coup attempt against him on July 19, 2016, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan undertook a vast rapprochement, especially in economic affairs, with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. The two countries confirmed in August 2016 their strategic goal of reaching 100 billion dollars in bilateral trade of which the volume dropped by a third over the last 12 months.
The significant advances made regarding the Akkuyu nuclear plant and the Turkish Stream pipeline have been of strategic relevance that exceeds the stricto sensu scope of bilateral relations since they’ve been essential to Putin’s ability to place Russia as a quasi-equal of Saudi Arabia in the recent conclusion of the oil cut production agreement between OPEC and non-OPEC countries. If the assassination of Karlov aimed at economic interests, one should likely investigate inside the energy sector.