Russian media talks tough but urges caution on Turkey jet downing

AFP , Wednesday 25 Nov 2015

Russian media on Wednesday echoed President Vladimir Putin's tough talk on Turkey's downing of its fighter jet but warned against letting tensions spiral into further conflict.

Front pages were dominated by pictures of the burning Russian jet and Putin's words that its downing was a "stab in the back."

"Russia is no longer a whipping boy," wrote pro-Kremlin tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda in an aggressive op-ed.

The scale of tensions over the shot-down plane has prompted Russian media to warn of a possible "new Cuban Missile Crisis" after the dramatic events of 1962 that brought the world to the brink of nuclear war.

"There hasn't been such a direct conflict between Russia (or the USSR) and a NATO country since the times of the Cuban Missile Crisis," wrote liberal news site.

"The most important subject now is how Russia can give a worthy response to (Turkish President Recep Tayyip) Erdogan, without starting World War III, without harming its own interests and without totally spoiling relations with Turkey for many years ahead," wrote Moskovsky Komsomolets daily in an op-ed.

It repeated a Soviet-era slogan: "Just don't let there be war."

But defence analyst Pavel Felgenhauer told TV Dozhd independent channel that Russian forces "most likely will wage war" rather than compromise with Turkey on targeting Ankara's Turkmen allies in Syria.

Russian media warned a breakdown in relations would have massive consequences for Russian tour agencies as well as for energy ties and for Russian business, closely linked to Turkey.

"The first victim to fall could be the tourism industry -- including Russia's," wrote Vedomosti business daily after Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday recommended Russians not to travel to Turkey.

More than four million Russians visited Turkey last year, the second largest group after Germans.

Many Russians forced to cancel holidays in Egypt after Moscow cut flights there after the bombing of its passenger jet in September have already rebooked them to Turkey, wrote Kommersant business daily.

RBK business daily headlined its front page: "$44 billion is under threat" referring to the the balance of trade and services between the countries last year.

Russia imports food, clothes and other goods from Turkey, most significantly 20 percent of its vegetable imports come from there, Vedomosti business daily calculated. Turkey has filled a niche after Russia embargoed EU food imports over the Ukraine crisis.

Turkey is also a major consumer of Russian gas, the second largest in Europe after Germany, and Russia's budget and gas giant Gazprom are unlikely to be able to manage without this money, Vedomosti wrote.

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