The Fog of War in Turkey

However much I would like to write about Turkey the situation is completely unclear to me. With the control of state media still seeming to be in control of Erdogan-loyalists no assessment can be made about the current strategical situation. Nor can it be said who staged the coup, it might be the army, but just as well the army might have been staged by Erdogan himself in order to create a climate which allows him to further establish his power basis.

The coup does shed light on the unexplainable moves made by Turkey in the recent past. Having supported the Islamic State by buying and reselling its oil, allowing IS fighters to be treated in its hospitals, shooting down the SU24 jet. A few months later, Turkey suddenly apologizes to Russia for shooting down its aircraft and started to be less hostile to the Kurds fighting in Syria. These sudden shifts puzzled many and indicated that Turkey had either had incompetent political leadership that couldn’t see the consequences of its actions. Now however, these strange moves might very well be the effect of a weak power basis for the political lead of Turkey, forcing them to adjust their policy to the political climate.

Expanding on this possible weak power basis, the coup, whoever staged it, might turn out very beneficial to Erdogan. If Erdogan survives the coup this will give him the political motivation he will need to further purge the armed forces. In the past, already, a group of around 250 men were tried for organizing a coup back in 2003. The alleged conspirators were found not guilty in 2015. This current coup attempt positions the Islamist Erdogan administration better to better deal with suppressing resistance coming from the mostly secular army. Hence, the coup attempt might very well further establish Erdogan’s power basis.

As for now, nothing can be said. For as in any war, the perception of the people who is winning is vital for for who will win. Hence any news channel should be considered a battle field and every news report as a weapon.  For now, it seems as if Erdogan loyalists are in control of media outlets and hence our perception of who is winning the battle. It is yet to be seen who is truly in control of the streets.



Can you walk over that bridge?

Ever since being amazed by the Cтрелка for the first time, I knew one thing for sure: I will run in such a beautiful scenery, I will cross the Ока and I will climb the steep slopes of Нижный. With these thoughts in mind I was planning my trip for since I first arrived. And, when on excursion I saw a new bridge, I knew, this is it. “Can you walk over that bridge?” I asked my teacher. With her ‘yes’, my faith was sealed, my route was planned. The adventure into Russia’s nature’s hidden secret would begin.

The route near the River Ока (prenounced ‘Aká’) was rather rough. Though some pieces were on concrete, large sections went straight through forests with its slopes turned slippery by the recent rain. The grass and bushes stood tall and passages were narrow. Although engineers did their best in order guide the water stream from high up the hill, some small streams could still be seen here and there.

The nature of Russia is stunning, even despite being only very close to the city, the nature was wild and unplanned. In strong contrast to the planned and therefore dull landscape of the Netherlands, Russia’s nature is wild and untamed. And it looked as if people only seldom went there.

The banks of the Ока were rather deserted seen its beauty. Some buildings were present but were mostly deserted. Only in a small village of improvised houses some form of active housing could be seen. Sometimes gates were presented forbidding people to go farther, but with no fences to close the cap, they were not to be taken serious. Only once, at an abandoned shipyard I was somewhat halted when it was written: СТОЙ! ОПОЗДНО! (Stand still, Danger!) But being in Russia and with no people around…it’s better to move ahead.


The most remarkable thing that I found on the bank was perhaps a needle. I know Russia has dealt with a high amount of drug addicts resulting in a very rapid spread of AIDS in the country. I have never seen evidence of that stereotype (Neither of wide spread alcoholism by the way). This was the first time that I have seen something like it and though I feel rather weary to draw conclusions about a country to which I am an alien, it seems as most drug use is hidden.

On the banks of the Ока occasionally a car could be seen, but all of them deserted. I would have expected a last car, parked all the way at the end of a dead end road, positioned right next to a forest to be empty too. But it was not. With both the boy and the girl sitting in the back of the car and the young man tenderly touching the young womans her rear, gave strong hints on what happened, or was about to happen in the car. I could not help but to think about how many young people still live with their parents or in communal housing on universities that might not always allow them the privacy they desire.


Having reached the bridge at last, had gone through my water supply, I knew this run was going to be a tough one. But the prospect of being able to run accros the bridge was exciting. On my right, there would be a fall of more than 50m down, on the right, slow moving traffic due to one of 4 bridges of НН being out for repairs. The river crossing was somewhat saddened by the sight of flowers attached to the bridge half way. It was clear that this was the end of one persons suffering.

The other bank was different, less nature, more people and more traffic. But what struck me was, despite enough high rise buildings being present, parts of the city were filled with small wooden houses which seemed to have not been painted for many years. Might even seem sometimes to be abandoned. Along the same street factories, sometimes hundreds of kilometers long appeared, interchanged with the familiar wooden houses.

By now, it had all but became clear to me that I had greatly underestimated the distance and the difficulty of the terrain I was traversing. And as my feet grew heavier I was the more anxious to find a short cut. Guided by my sense of direction, I would end up in a ‘neighborhood’ of sheds and plated garages. In all directions I was greeted by an whole army of magazines offering to change tires, but no passage to the second bridge over the Ока I was so desprate trying to find for my way was blocked by a small but violently flowing stream.

My salvation was found when I found a passage over the stream I was not able to cross. No bridge, just a big pipe about 4 meters above the stream. I knew, a possible falling, possibly breaking a leg, fast running water and tiredness might well become fatal. But this is Russia, and crazy things have to be done when in Russia. I crossed and judging by these words – successfully.


As I again was walking into normal urban areas I was starting to wonder what people might think of me: Adidas tracksuit, tank top, sunglasses, covered in dirt. I can hardly imagine sometime more Kopnik. Though by now I have grow tired and resulted to running, I did manage to find the strength for the run across the last bridge over the Ока and the climb on the bank.

Eventually home, I found I did not run a distance under the 10km as I thoughed, but covered a distance even above 22km. But, every step had been a new discovery into this unknown and surprising country.

Russian aircraft invade European Airspace

Sukhoi’s will soon roam European airspace. The company primarily known for its world class fighter planes has again set to the skies, but this time with a civil aviation airliner: The Sukhoi Superjet 100. The SSJ100 will be pivotal for the Russian civilian aircraft industry for new Russian civilian aircraft are already in advanced stages of development.

The airplane industry might well be the most heavily regulated and politicized sectors of the economy. Before any aircraft takes to the air it undergoes rigorous testing, must comply with a whole batch of safety certifications. On top of that, due to the high costs of an airplane and maintaining an aircraft industry, any country prefers to see its own planes being sold over those of other countries.

By moving on to the civil aviation market, Sukhoi ventured itself into a new market where it has little to no experience. Futhermore the market is dominated by oligopolies with established positions like Boeing, Airbus, Embraer. Together with the high costs of production and development Sukhoi found itself in a high risk market.

For its construction and development Sukhoi incorperated a non-Russian strategy: it sought help from abroad. Using foreign engines, using expertise in the selling and re-selling of boeing, painting in Italy and many more. The purpose for this strategy is two fold, borrow from the safety reputation of established western producers and at the same time borrow on their experience.

The start of the SSJ100 was rough. Who was willing to buy a Russian airplane? In an article of The New York Times Les Weal analyst of aircraft safety put it clearly: “Historically, Russian aircraft have an image that will take a long time to address (…) It would take a huge leap of faith for an airline to turn to a newcomer.” Already the aircraft was experiencing malfunctions, the first Airliner to use the plane, That, however, was back in 2011.

Enter 2012. On May 9th the new SSJ100 would take of for a demonstration flight. Aboard was a representation for potential buyers of the aircraft. Despite the flight, no planes would be sold that day: The aircraft crashed. Amongst the 50 or so people aboard, there would be no survivors.

The pilot flying the plane had over 10 000 flying hours on his name, a huge amount. Initial conclusions that were therefor drawn from the crash was that the plane was unsafe. The investigation into the crash would eventually find the pilot and the air traffic controller to blame. They both neglected to take into account the surrounding mountains in combination with the low altitude of the aircraft. When the altitude warning indicator was heard in the cocpit, the pilots were too late to respond. The plane literally crashed into a mountain.

Despite nothing pointed blame towards the Sukhoi airliner, the damage was dealt. And the influence of a good safety reputation is of big importance in the aircraft and airliner industry. For example, very recently Air Malaysia renamed its company as a result of the damage the company had suffered due to the consecutive accidents with the MH370 and MH17.

 ssj-100-3Sukhoi 100 Superjet (

The next when months proved to be disastrous for the sale of the aircraft. The resulting financial problems that hit the company would not help either with the sale of the aircraft. As Richard Teal, Vice-President an industry analysis company, would explain to The Moscow Times: “It’s a good jet. [But at the same time, big Western airlines] wondered if the company would go under and leave them with an orphaned product.”

The Russian state would eventually step in in order to save the company. With record amounts of investment, the state would save the company. Would appoint a new director being the deputy minister of industry and would replace most of the managers. The aircraft was ready to take off.

The Sukhoi Superjet was deemed to critical to be let down. The aircraft industry is a strategic sector with gives a good representation of the overall level of development of a country. Hence, the SSJ100 will be Russia’s presentation card for the rest of the world. Also the SSJ100 will be pivotal for the new generation of airliners Russia will produce. Any future Russian airliner to be developed will lean heavily on the SSJ100. Any experience gained in construction and selling the aircraft will benefit new Russian airliners. Also, any new airliner will expand of the reputation the Superjet makes for itself. Hence the project will be critical for the development of the Russian civil aviation industry as a whole.

Despite the rough start Sukoi found itself in, things have seemed to have changed for the better. Mexican aircraft company Interjet, which has already been operating the plane for several years has indicated to be quite contempt with the 30 aircraft it is operating. And since january this year, Sukhoi has found its first European costumer, the Irish airline CityJet. Only this January, CityJet has ordered its first set of planes. Just previous month, in May 2016, the first Superjet was handed over to CityJet.

Now rumors are already on going that Air France might be interested in leasing several planes, via CityJet. It is jet to be seen whether these rumors have any base in reality, but if it has, Sukhoi and the Russian aircraft industry will further establish itself on the airliner market.

New projects are already nearing the end of their development and Russia will soon see its second commercial airliner completely developed and build after the collapse of the Soviet Union take to the air. Presenting the MC-21.

Slowly, Russia seems to establish itself on the civil aviation industry and by doing so further shows the world that its economy is slowly developing away from its dependency of the the oil and weapons industry. Though, not there yet, Russian planes over European skies indicate a new era of Russian aviation and hers economy.