Last week, tempers flared anew between Ankara and Moscow after Turkey accused Russia of violating its airspace near the Syrian border.
This time around, Turkey summoned the Russian ambassador - a much more prudent course of action than shooting down a Russian warplane, which is what Ankara decided to do back in November.
Of course every geopolitical action has an equal and opposite reaction. Russia’s response to the downing of its Su-24 by Turkish F-16s was to tarnish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s international image by linking his government to Islamic State’s illicit crude trade. The Kremlin’s anti-Erdogan PR campaign came complete with dozens of videos depicting oil tankers barreling across Turkey’s border with Syria unimpeded and the Russian Defense Ministry delighted in broadcasting footage of airstrikes that turned hundreds of the tankers to dust.
Now, Russia is hitting back at Turkey after the latest spat over Moscow’s alleged incursion into Ankara’s airspace and once again, The Kremlin is breaking out the videos.
According to the Russian Defense Ministry, Turkey is shelling civilian areas in Syria from a border outpost. Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov showed video footage depicting the attacks at a press conference.
"This facility is a Turkish border outpost, which did not have any firing points a few months ago," he said, adding that "This is called fact. This is irrefutable proof that the Turkish Armed Forces are shelling settlements on the Syrian border from heavy artillery systems.”
So why is Turkey shelling Syria you ask? Well that's an open question but there are two rather obvious possibilities. First, Ankara could be hitting the YPG, who Erdogan deeply distrusts and equates with the PKK.
It's also possible Turkey is attempting to assist the opposition as Russia and Iran bear down on the rebels and militants. Sputnik said on Monday that one Syrian soldier was killed in shelling from Turkey in norther Latakia. "At present, it is the region where the Syrian Armed Forces are carrying out an offensive against the Nusra Front militants and a number of other extremists," Sputnik notes. "The jihadists aim to establish full control over the Turkish border, through which they regularly receive reinforcements such as equipment and fighters."
So Turkey, it would appear, is now actively involved in the ground battle - on the side of the terrorists.
“We expect an immediate reaction and explanations of the actions of Turkish military by NATO and the Pentagon,” Gen. Konashenkov says.
Good luck with that.