On 3 February 2010, while commenting on the military clashes in Idlib and before learning about the assassination of the 4 Russian FSB officers by Turkmen militia in Aleppo (Syria) , Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stated: “I want to tell the Russian authorities: you are not our interlocutor here, but the ’regime’. So, don’t get in our way.”
Defense Minister General Hulusi Akar confirmed that the Turkish army had attacked 54 targets and killed 76 Syrian soldiers in retaliation for the deaths of 5 of its soldiers and 3 Turkish civilians.
During a telephone conversation between the Russian and Turkish foreign ministers, Sergey Lavrov and Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Russia underscored that the Syrian-Turkish clashes came as a result of the Turkish president’s failure to implement the commitments he made to his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, on 17 September 2018. The Russias side also pointed out that it did not received prior notice of Turkish force movements as prescribed by the Sochi agreements, which the Turkish army denied.
The Russian and Turkish armies immediately suspended their joint patrols.
The Turkish press suggested that the Syrian attack intervened after the cooling of Ankara’s relations with the European Union concerning the Mediterranean pipeline and Libya.
The Russian press has published testimonies of former Al Qaeda jihadists who claim to have been forcibly engaged by the Turks in the Al-Nusra Front in 2011.
On the following day, February 4, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu chaired the conference of Turkish ambassadors “Asia again” in Ankara. He used the occasion to take a low profile vis-à-vis Russia and denounce “the arrogance of the Damascus regime”. He affirmed that the Sochi and Astana processes were not dead, only “injured”. Adding: “We consider the Russian pretexts that they cannot fully control the Syrian regime to be totally inconceivable.”
During the week, fleeing from the fighting, 151,000 civilians moved to areas occupied by the Turkish army, but were unable to cross the border.
Arriving in Ukraine for the 8th Turkish-Ukrainian Strategic Council, President Erdoğan, on the contrary, hardened his tone against Russia. He reviewed the National Guard. He exclaimed “Glory to Ukraine! To which the soldiers replied: “For the heroes of glory!” According to the rituals of the collaborators of the Nazis (banderists). This cry is again used against the independenceists of Donbass.
He reiterated that he did not recognize “the annexation of Crimea by Russia”. He received the head of the International Islamist Brigade, Mustafa Djemilev (known as “Mustafa Kırımoğlu”.