On the verge of great war
Turkey proposed to hold emergency NATO meeting and received approval. According to the Turkish Anadolu agency, the meeting will be held today at the headquarters of the alliance in Brussels. Ankara may try to get its allies to use an article of the NATO charter on collective security, according to which military operations against a NATO member are considered to be aggression against all members of the alliance, which requires collective response. That's how Turkey reacted to the losses suffered in Idlib, for which it blames mostly Russia.
It seems that Idlib is becoming the site of possible major clash, which can possibly lead to large-scale multilateral war. Hopefully, it won't come to this. But for now, the situation looks really bad.
Ankara claims that more than 30 Turkish soldiers died as a result of the actions of Russian aviation. The response of the Russian side is very clear: "Russian Center for the Reconciliation of Warring Sides constantly requested coordinates of all units of the Turkish Armed Forces located near the terrorist combat zones." And, according to the data obtained by the Center, there were supposed to be no Turkish soldiers in the area of the Behun settlement, where the losses occurred.
According to Russian side, Turkish soldiers were among militantants that waged offensive operation and were driven back by the Syrian government army. In addition, it denied information about the participation of Russian aviation. "Immediately after receiving report on injured Turkish troops, Russian side took comprehensive measures so that Syrian troops would initiate ceasefire," Russia stated, noting that all conditions had been created for the Turkish side to evacuate dead and injured soldiers.
Ankara wasn't satisfied with this explanation. Spokesman for the presidential administration, Fahredin Altun, said that Turkey would not leave the deaths of 33 of soldiers unanswered, that it had already attacked the army of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and "will continue air and land attacks."
Advisor to President Erdogan Mesut Hakki said during A-Haber television channel broadcast that Turkey will "deal with Russia by destroying it from within": "We fought with Russia 16 times in the past and we will do it again." Recalling that 25 million Muslims live in the Russian Federation, Mesut Hakki warned: if it comes to vengeance, it will be horrible.
Ankara’s request to the NATO leadership to hold emergency meeting was accompanied by hints of alliance members, sometimes quite transparent, about their possible actions. It looked like trading.
The United States immediately made it clear that everything would be "ok" if Turkey abandoned the S-400 Russian anti-aircraft missile systems. U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO Kate Bailey Hutchison said the events in Idlib should help Turkey understand who its real ally is. "I hope that President Erdogan will see that we are their past and future ally, and that he must get rid of the S-400... Turkey can already see what Russia is doing. And if they attack Turkish soldiers, then this should outweigh everything that happens between Turkey and Russia," Hutchison said.
Ankara hasn't responded yet. But it did respond to President of France, Emanuel Macron, who said that in order to avoid serious consequences, sides should follow the path of reduction of tensions. In response Turkey said that from now on it would not create any obstacles to refugees following from the East to Europe. It looks like an ultimatum: if Turkey doesn't receive support of its European partners in NATO, then the Old World will get a new migration crisis.
UN Secretary General António Guterres called on all sides to initiate cease fire immediately and expressed deep concern about the fate of the civilian population.