The assassination of Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov deeply shocked the public and the ruling circles in Moscow. President Vladimir Putin canceled his long-planned annual press conference to bid farewell to the diplomat. Given the recent worsening of Turkish-Russian relations after Turkey downed a Russian jet in November 2015, whoever was behind the murder clearly expected a sharp reaction from Moscow. However, a timely and proper reaction from the Turkish establishment, and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in particular, dashed those hopes. Erdogan immediately addressed the nation and called Putin to express his condolences and condemnation of the assassin. That immediate reaction, according to the sources close to the Kremlin, has become an important marker to keep the emotions down. Otherwise — undoubtedly — the incident would have become one more indelible stain on Moscow-Ankara relations.
The results of the investigation into the assassination, which is being carried out by a joint Russian-Turkish commission, are critical. The obvious flaw for all parties involved was the weak protection of the ambassador. The Russian press has reported that the Turkish side opposed increased protection due to the involvement of a Russian special group associated with the security agencies. The weak protection is even more surprising when taking into account that terror attacks have been ripping through major cities across Turkey, with two more deadly blasts rocking Istanbul a couple of weeks ago. Contrary to authorities’ assurances that the situation has been stabilized, Turkey is apparently still suffering from a vulnerability to the growing terrorist threat.