(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME )
Russia’s ambassador to Turkey was shot dead in Ankara on Monday in an attack that will unsettle the delicate diplomacy over the regional crisis emanating from the civil war in Syria.
The shooting comes at a moment of high stakes negotiations between Turkey and Russia, with implications for the future of the conflict which has left as many as half a million people dead.
Ambassador Andrei Karlov was shot at an art gallery in Ankara on Monday. In video footage, the ambassador stands at a podium as gunfire rings out. He flinches and then drops to the floor. Standing behind him, a man wearing a dark suit and tie raises one finger skyward and shouts, “Allahu akbar.”
The gunman continues speaking. “Don’t forget about Aleppo, don’t forget about Syria!” he shouts in Turkish.
The attacker was killed following the shooting, according to Turkish state media. The Russian foreign ministry confirmed Karlov’s death.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called the assassination a “terrorist attack.” According to Russia’s TASS news agency, she said Russia was in contact with Turkish officials who had had pledged an “all-round” investigation into the shooting. “The attackers will be punished,” she said.
Russia’s support for the regime of President Bashar Assad has angered sections of the public in Turkey, where the government supports Syrian rebel groups who have been attempting to oust Assad.
The attack took place on the eve of a diplomatic summit in Moscow including the foreign ministers of Russia and Iran, a meeting of key regional powers that back opposing sides in the Syrian war.
Last week, Turkey and Russia negotiated an agreement to evacuate the remaining civilians and rebel fighters from a besieged enclave in the Syrian city of Aleppo, marking a victory for the Assad government and a turning point in more than five and a half years of crisis.
The Turkish and Russian governments recently set aside tensions following a period of deep discord. Turkey shot down a Russian warplane that crossed into its airspace along the Syrian border in November 2015, triggering months of hostility in which Russia imposed sanctions on Turkey.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan reached a rapprochement in June and Turkey hosted the Russian leader at an energy summit in Istanbul in September.