Andrei Karlov – Russia’s Ambassador to Turkey – was shot Monday while delivering a speech at a photo exhibition in Ankara.
The gunman, believed to be a renegade Turkish police officer, shot Karlov in the back while shouting “Allahu Akbar.” The perpetrator, later identified as Mevlut Mert Altintas, was a 22-year-old who had been with the Ankara police for over two years. He was shot and killed Monday night by Turkish police.
The 62-year-old ambassador passed away at a local hospital.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has vowed revenge for the attack. “We have to know who organized the killing, who gave orders to the assassin,” said Putin. “The fight against terrorism will only be stepped up.”
Putin referred to Karlov as an “outstanding diplomat” and has launched a serious investigation. “He was killed while performing his duties,” said Putin, adding that a memorial would be erected in Karlov’s honor.
Relations between Russia and Turkey have been strained since last November, when a Turkish aircraft shot down a Russian military jet, and Ankara Mayor Melih Gokcek believes the assassination was aimed to prevent reconciliation.
Putin has stated that the “provocative act” was also aimed to disrupt the “peace process in Syria promoted by Russia, Turkey, Iran, and other countries interested in settling the conflict in Syria.” Foreign and defense ministers from Turkey, Russia, and Iran are scheduled to meet Tuesday in Moscow to discuss the future of Syria.
“I believe this is an attack on Turkey, the Turkish state, and the Turkish people, and also a clear provocation,” said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “I am sure our Russian friends also see this fact. Both Turkey and Russia have the will not to be deceived by this false flag attack.”
Osman Faruk Logoglu, former Turkish ambassador to the US, notes that recent evacuations in Aleppo have upset “many radical elements of the Syrian opposition” and may have had somethign to do with the attack. “It’s a very complex situation. But the end result is that we really have to keep our cool.”
While Turkey and Russia cooperate in the investigation, Putin has ordered increased security at Russian embassies across the globe. He has also tightened security for all Turkish missions in Russia.
The United States stands ready to aid Russia in the investigation, and Secretary of State John Kerry has referred to the assassination as “an assault on the right of all diplomats to safely and securely advance and represent their nations to the world.”