He was speaking at a photo exhibition in Cer Modern Arts Center in Ankara when he was hit in the back by a bullet: The Russian ambassador in Turkey, Andrey Karlov, died Monday night from the serious injuries sustained in the attack. After the shooting, the assailant — who shouted “Allah is great” and “Revenge for Aleppo” — was killed by security forces before being identified as Mevlüt Mert Altıntaş, a police academy cadet. Shortly after, gunfire echoed near the U.S. embassy.
Russian President Vladimir Putin held an emergency meeting with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and intelligence agencies, and the embassy decried the “terrorist act” by radical Islamists, whose affiliates are fighting in the Syrian opposition and who have attacked Turkey multiple times in the past. Lately, radical Islamists have been accused of protesting in Turkish cities, their black flags condemning the Russian intervention in Syria.
On Tuesday, the two nations opened negotiations in Moscow, despite the assassination, and the sides, plus Iran, said they were ready to broker a deal to end the war.
Meanwhile, hypotheses about the nature of Karlov’s murderer abounded: that it was an Islamist group opposed to the Russian involvement in Syria, a lone wolf or domestic forces intent on weakening President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Certainly the ambassador’s death casts a shadow on the shaky relations between Russia and Turkey, weakening the latter. Already broken down by the Syrian war, Ankara must now abandon its aims in Aleppo in exchange for a free hand in northern Syria, in the Kurdish Rojava.