NEWSWATCH Washington Post: “How Turkey confounded Putin’s favorite narratives”
On Monday, two Turkish F-16s shot down a Russian plane which Turkey said had crossed into its airspace. Various interpretations could in theory be placed upon this event. Depending on one’s point of view, it could be described as an act of self-defense on the part of Turkey, a NATO member – or an act of aggression. But to Vladimir Putin, and to his claque in the Russian media, only one question matters: To which of his narratives should it belong?
Russia is said to have focused more on Turkey than NATO, raising the prospect that Putin might still wish to seek broader Russo-Western cooperation.
The NATO element has been left out. Turkey, a false friend, and an “accomplice of terrorists” has “stabbed us in the back,” Putin declared.
… Given the alternatives, that’s good news: It means that Russia is unlikely to respond to the Turks militarily and unlikely to drag NATO into broader conflict. It could also mean that Putin still hopes to be part of a larger coalition in Syria, or that he still wants a role in whatever Western diplomatic effort might eventually bring the war to an end. After all, he needs evidence for another one of his narratives: That he has brought back his country’s “superpower” status and its international influence.
However, if Russia suffers further losses, it is argued that Putin might have to shift focus again, including painting NATO as the villain.
[featured image is file photo]