Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will not win against Russia and Syria in a military confrontation so he is instead using migrants as weapons to try to force Europe to lend support, said former Asharq al-Awsat chief editor Salman al-Dossary in an op-ed for the pan-Arab daily.

Turkey launched a military operation in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib last week after bombardment by Syrian government forces killed more than 30 Turkish soldiers sent to ward off the Russian-backed Syrian government offensive on the rebel-held province.

But while Erdoğan has been a master of balancing competing interests in international relations, this time he has gone too far and is likely to become isolated, Dossary said.

“Erdogan is now facing a harsh military policy, with Moscow justifying the military attack on Turkish forces saying they were accompanying ‘terrorist groups’,” he said.

“Russia also informed the Turkish president of the consequences of any reaction, warning that he will find a stronger retaliation, while Washington did not take a single step to help him,” he said.

Turkey has called for help from its NATO allies in Idlib, and Erdoğan is due to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin on the matter later this week.

But Turkey does not have the political or military might to face Russia down, and so the Turkish president has opened the gates to allow thousands of refugees to move toward Europe as a last-gasp attempt to blackmail the European Union for support, said Dossary.