Russia Suspends Higher Ed Agreements with Turkey After Plane Incident


Following an incident in which Turkey appears to have taken down a Russian warplane above the Turkish-Syrian border, Russia suspended or cancelled bilateral agreements with 44 Higher Education institutions.

The Turkish education board said the decision was saddening and that Russia shouldn’t let political conflict affect educational ties between the two countries. The Board said in its written statement:

“We do not find it right that tensions between the two countries are leaving an impact on education.”

The Turkish Board of Education said in its written announcement following the suspension that the country’s institutions will continue supporting Russian students in the country: “[B]ecause of our Turkish noble-heartedness today as well as just like we did yesterday and we will be doing the same tomorrow.”

A press release by the Russian Education and Sciences Ministry sent to higher education institutions of Russia asked for the cancellation of upcoming education trips to Turkey by both teachers and students, according to Sputnik News. The statement reads:

“The Russian Education Ministry has drafted a decree terminating cooperation in science and technology with Turkey.”

The majority of the 44 institutions have already notified their Turkish academic partners that their cooperation contracts are unilaterally cancelled or suspended. Any educational, scientific and youth-related policies between the two countries are also under review, Sputnik News says.

The Russian Education and Science Minister also announced that Russian exchange students that are temporarily studying in Turkey are to immediately return home, The Daily Sabah says. At the moment, no sanctions are expected for students from Turkey currently residing and studying in Russia, said Dmitry Livanov, the Russian Minister of Education and Science.

As The Moscow Times reports, Russian lawmakers have recommended that universities drop their grants and scholarships for Turkish students. According to the same source, a Moscow-based Russian-Turkish research center abruptly announced it would remain closed with all classes, conferences and other events cancelled.

Since the downed plane incident on November 24, Russia put into effect several sanctions against Turkey including the ban of Turkish food products imports and the introduction of visa-required travel between the two nations, The Fulton County News says. More than 100 Turkish people have been refused entry at Russian airports, the Turkish Embassy spokesperson says. So far, more than 1,000 Turkish students in Russia have sought the support of the local Turkish embassy regarding their stay while many have been deported from the country already.

Russia never received an official apology for the incident by Ankara which led the former to proceed to the aforementioned sanctions in education but also in the business and economy sectors.

On November 24, a Russian Su-24 bomber ignored requests and warnings that it shouldn’t enter Turkey’s airspace. As a result, a Turkish F-16 fighter shot it down using an air-to-air missile. Russia says the shooting was uncalled for and illegal. The Syrian Air Defense Command and Russia say the Russian bomber did not enter into Turkey’s airspace.