Russia Strikes Insurgent-Held Area Near Syria-Turkey Border, Economic Retaliation Against Turkey Likely

| by Nicholas Roberts
Sukhoi SU-24, a plane similar to the one shot down near the Turkey-Syria borderSukhoi SU-24, a plane similar to the one shot down near the Turkey-Syria border

Turkey's shooting down of a Russian bomber plane on Nov. 24 reportedly did not stop Russia from engaging in an aerial bombardment of the area near the Syria-Turkey border where the plane was shot down.

Russia launched at least 12 airstrikes against rebel targets in the countryside, north of the port city of Latakia, Reuters reports.  

Pro-Assad forces were clashing with rebels from the al-Nusra Front (an al-Qaeda affiliate) as well as Turkmen insurgents based near the border, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Hassan Haj Ali, the leader of a rebel group based in western Syria, reported that there were skirmishes taking place throughout the area, with pro-Assad ground forces backed by Russian aircraft support. 

In the aftermath of the shooting down of a Russian SU-24 warplane, diplomatic and commercial ties between Russia and Turkey risk becoming undone. Russian President Vladimir Putin called the action a "stab in the back" and warned of serious consequences.

The Turkish government claimed that the Russian plane was violating Turkish airspace, while Russia insists that it was not.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev suggested on Nov. 25 that Turkey's action could lead to the end of several bilateral trade and infrastructure deals between the two nations, according to CNBC.  Russia may opt to end imports of certain goods from Turkey.

"The direct consequences could lead to our refusal to take part in a whole raft of important joint projects and Turkish companies losing their positions on the Russian market," said Medvedev.

Another industry that will be affected by the incident is tourism. Russia has reportedly alerted its citizens not to travel to Turkish resorts this year, and two Russian tour operators said that they will end their packages in Turkey. This would be significant, as Russians currently bring $4.1 billion in revenue to Turkey's tourism industry yearly.

Food is another tricky area for the two nations, as Russia imports Turkish food products and Turkey is the largest purchaser of Russian wheat in the world, aside from Egypt.

Russia's food watchdog, Aleksey Alekseenko, told Reuters that he thinks a decision about the issue will soon be made by the country's political leadership.

Sources: Reuters via Yahoo News (2), CNBC / Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons