Putin’s central position

Note kindly translated by Anne-Marie de Grazia

The blatant aggression committed by Turkey against a Russian military airplane within Syrian air space [1] has changed the regional ratio of power, but not necessarily in the way the Turkish government might have wished. This change is noticeable in the results of the encounter of November 26th in Moscow between Vladimir Putin and François Hollande.


  1. We now have clarifications about the incident itself. The Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation has published a map of the incident, which we are reproducing here

Map of the aerial incident


Source : Ministry of Defence of Russia

We can see that, according to Russia, the airplane (a Su-24) was flying above Syria. Even in the hypothesis that it would have flown over Turkish territory for about fifteen seconds (hypothesis marked in a dotted line on the map) it is evident that it was hit by a missile shot from a Turkish interceptor above Syrian territory. Turkey’s thesis, according to which the crew would have been warned “about ten times” within 5 minutes is unbelievable because the Russian airplane did not remain above Turkish territory for more than 15 seconds (it was flying at 250 m/sec at the moment of the incident, which is confirmed by the video showing the swing-wings widely deployed). The Russian crew, one member of which (the navigator) was recuperated by the Russian forces, denies having received any warning. If there has been any, it would have occurred above Syrian territory, which would imply that Turkey was implementing a no-fly zone above a sovereign state without any international mandate. The aggression against Russia is therefore compounded, as we indicated in an earlier note, by a flagrant violation of international law by Turkey.

  1. The Turkish government, in its defence, invokes its right to defend its air space. But it is a notorious and verified fact that it violates regularly the Greek air space. These are the number of violations listed by the Greek Ministry of Defence.

Violations of Greek air-space

 A - 111cu

Some of these violations (about 10% of them) having lasted over three minutes and implying a penetration of over 30 km into Greek air space. We can see that the number and the importance of these violations are far more considerable that what the Russian airplane is said committed according to the Turks. If the Greek government had used the same methods than Turkey to have its air space respected, there would no longer be any Turkish air force (and the two countries would be at war…)

  1. The decision of the Russian government to deploy batteries of ground-air missiles S-400 « Triumph » (or SA-21 « Growler » for NATO) in the North of Syria is a response to this aggression [2]. These missiles are able to intercept any airplane or cruise missile at considerable distances (250 km)[3]. These missiles could therefore enable Russia, if it wanted, to impose a zone of interdiction of air movements in Turkey. The threat here is very clear against Turkey. It comes with a campaign of airstrikes aimed at the logistics of DAESH which are implemented in complicity with Turkey.

Very clearly, the Russian government aims at demonstrating the complicity of some persons in the Turkish government with DAESH.

One must, beyond this, expect that Russia will multiply economic sanctions against Turkey. A de facto embargo on Turkish food products has been decided on Wednesday, November 25, and Russian tourism in Turkey will certainly be much reduced, even suspended [4]. These various measures could cost directly between 8 and 10 billion dollars to Turkey, and indirectly between 10 and 12 billion, which amounts to about 1.5% of it GDP.

  1. Moreover, and this fact doesn’t seem to have received all the attention it deserved, at the occasion of the reunion held in Moscow between the Russian and the French Presidents, an agreement seems to have been found for the Russian air force to suspend its raids against Syrian opposition groups on condition that these groups join the attacks of the Syrian government against DAESH. This point is of the highest importance. It would imply a de facto truce being implemented between the troops of the Syrian government and some of its opponents, so that both parties can concentrate their efforts against DAESH. This must be put into perspective with the reunion of a conference in December in Moscow between the Syrian government and the opposition, in order to discuss a political issue to the crisis. We will then note that:
    • Russia is establishing itself more and more as an unavoidable, and even a decisive actor in a possible settlement of the Syrian civil war. This conference, if it does take place, will have far more important effects on the terrain than the conference of Vienna. Russia is holding today some of the keys of the future of Syria, whether this future includes, or not, Bachar El-Assad.
    • French diplomacy was forced again to “pedal back” in recognizing that France could cooperate with the Syrian army (i.e. Bachar’s) in its fight against DAESH. In fact, France is finding itself in a more and more uncomfortable position between the United States and Russia, and the personal position of Laurent Fabius seems to be more and more fragile within the government.
  2. We are witnessing a return to reality concerning the relations between France and Russia. François Hollande sought to situate this return on a personal level at the meeting of November 26. Only to be reminded by Vladimir Putin that, if sympathies are not to be excluded forthright, the relationship is one from President to President. And it seems indeed that it was France who went to long way. This return to reality must be stressed. But it also indicates the importance of what was lost in a sterile politics of opposition to Russia since 2014.


[1] Which we related on the carnet Russeurope http://russeurope.hypotheses.org/4498

[2] http://sputniknews.com/middleeast/20151126/1030782946/s-400-syria-russia.html

[3] We must point out that, contrarily to what was indicated in the TV Journal of France-2 on 26 november at 20h00, these missiles cannot be used to « bomb » the so-called Islamic State organisation. An uninformed journalist confused them with ground-to-ground missiles.

[4] http://russeurope.hypotheses.org/4502


Jacques Sapir

Ses travaux de chercheur se sont orientés dans trois dimensions, l’étude de l’économie russe et de la transition, l’analyse des crises financières et des recherches théoriques sur les institutions économiques et les interactions entre les comportements individuels. Il a poursuivi ses recherches à partir de 2000 sur les interactions entre les régimes de change, la structuration des systèmes financiers et les instabilités macroéconomiques. Depuis 2007 il s'est impliqué dans l’analyse de la crise financière actuelle, et en particulier dans la crise de la zone Euro.

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