Jordan Candler / November 30, 2015

Putin Levies Sanctions on Turkey

But what does Russia hope to gain?

Vladimir Putin responded to last week’s downing of a Russian bomber that Turkey claims crossed into unauthorized airspace with economic sanctions — and he doesn’t much care what anyone else thinks. “Putin signed a decree imposing a raft of punitive economic sanctions against Turkey on Saturday, underlining the depth of the Kremlin’s anger toward Ankara four days after Turkey shot down a Russian warplane,” Reuters reports. “The decree, which entered into force immediately, said charter flights from Russia to Turkey would be banned, that tour firms would be told not to sell any holidays there, and that unspecified Turkish imports would be outlawed, and Turkish firms and nationals have their economic activities halted or curbed.”

Russia has a fragile economy, which leaves us wondering what Putin thinks he can gain here. As National Review’s Arthur L. Herman notes, “Russia itself is on the brink of bankruptcy; its military and entire economy are built on the necessity of $100 a barrel oil at a time when oil struggles to stay above $50 a barrel. A foreign adventure turned sour could tip Putin’s regime over the edge.” With that in mind, Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey says, “It’s the time to stand firm against ISIS, but that’s the problem with everyone in the coalition. All of the members have other priorities in this fight than standing firm against ISIS, primarily the status of Bashar al-Assad.” He adds, “[T]here isn’t much potential for a grand alliance to function on anything but a temporary and tactical level. Blend all of this together with the predilection of Russian pilots for pulling provocative stunts around the borders and naval assets of its rivals, and you end up with a combustible mix that produces exactly this kind of outcome.”

For now, we wait and see. But regardless of what happens, this latest provocation underscores the volatility in letting scoundrels like Putin and Assad call the shots in the first place.

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