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Turkey's blurred red line on Russia

With recent scuffles between Moscow and Ankara, further instability threatens the Middle East conflict; but will either country really push things that far?
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Notwithstanding Russian President Vladimir Putin’s declaration that Turkey was “stabbing us in the back” by downing a Russian Su-24 jet along the Syrian-Turkish border, Moscow is well aware of the costs of a complete breakdown in its relations with Ankara and — at least so far — appears set on avoiding that outcome. Nevertheless, neither Putin nor his fellow strongman Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan seem likely to find it easy to climb down from the rhetorical heights they have scaled in contesting one another’s accounts of what happened and why. And the longer the current situation lasts, the more perilous it could become.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has stated that his government will act “pragmatically” in imposing economic sanctions on Turkey, telling his assembled vice prime ministers that “the decisions we make should be maximally sensitive for the Turkish side and minimally costly to our economic interests.” Clarifying this in an article in Russia’s official government newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta — helpfully titled “We don’t need Turkish vegetables” — Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich explained that the government was working to limit any impact on consumer prices

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