Moscow-NATO ties tested amid uncertainty

Source:Global Times Published: 2015-11-26 0:43:02

The whole world has been talking about Turkey's downing of a Russian warplane on Tuesday. Observers' views can be summarized from two sides. On the one hand, it is highly likely that Russia will seek revenge, and the situation is fluid. On the other, the overall situation is more likely to be still under control, with the chance that mutual retaliation between Russia and Turkey could escalate into an all-out confrontation between Russia and NATO being very low.

Russia-NATO relations have deteriorated recently, but we could not foresee that long-lasting tension would break out on the Turkey-Syria border in this way. Whether Ankara got into trouble accidentally or made a timely move for  NATO is an interesting question. Only time can tell the answer. 

Turkey is not a leading member of NATO, but has called Russia's bluff. This is irritating Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Kremlin's next move will influence the future development of this emergency.

Many believe the incident will not get messier. From the Ukraine crisis to the Syrian conflict, there has been constant friction between Russia and the West, yet both sides have obviously been cautiously skirting around each other's bottom line.

Nevertheless, Ankara's slap in the face to Moscow was powerful, which made the entire Russian society feel ashamed. If Putin does nothing, it will be illogical in terms of the country's authoritarian politics. Therefore, Russia is very likely to strike back.

Of course, there are also other possibilities, such as mediation by influential powers from Europe, which can provide Russia a graceful way to back out of the deadlock. If Western nations can restore their relationship with Russia to some extent, relax their sanctions against the latter, and "reward" it for its restraint after suffering the shooting down of the aircraft, it may get Moscow's attention.

Now is not the tensest moment in the relationship between Europe, the US and Russia. Although the West is suspicious whether Moscow has selfish motives in fighting against the Islamic State, still, Syria has actually brought the Kremlin and the West closer over the past two months. France is now enthusiastic about forging an alliance among major powers in the world against terrorism. Moreover, after Turkey shot down the Russian plane, public opinion within Europe is divided, and has not entirely leaned to Ankara's side. It shows that there is still room for maneuver.

How the crisis can be solved might prove to be a touchstone, which may tell how hostile Russia and NATO are  to each other, or whether they can still communicate with each other.

Posted in: Editorial

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