As the Turkish and Russian governments have worked to improve their historically frosty relationship, the Russian ambassador to Turkey was assassinated on Monday by a Turkish police officer. Gunman Mevlut Mert Altintas was killed in the aftermath.
Ambassador Andrey Karlov was killed at an Ankara art gallery where he was invited to speak at the opening of an exhibit of Turkish photographers in Russia. Altintas yelled, “Allahu akbar. Do not forget Aleppo! Do not forget Syria! Do not forget Aleppo! Do not forget Syria!” “Allahu akbar” is Arabic for “God is great.” He also yelled “Get back!” while he waved the gun.
Due to prescheduled event, there were photographers and videographers present and photos of the gunman and Karlov’s dead body quickly spread on the Internet.
President Vladimir Putin gave televised remarks and called the shooting a “provocation” in response to improving Turkish-Russian relations and Russia’s peace process in Syria. While Russia claims it is boosting peace and defeating terrorism in Syria, its heaviest involvement is supporting embattled President Bashir al-Assad and defeating rebel forces in order to allow al-Assad to take back territory.
“The only response we should offer to this murder is stepping up our fight against terror, and the criminals will feel the heat,” Putin said.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also called the killing a “provocation,” saying, “But the Russian government and the Turkish republic have the will to not fall into that provocation.”