Turkey has the most pragmatic position here - Shoaib Khan

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In 2018, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey could play a mediation role to ease tensions between Russia and Ukraine after the seizure of three Ukrainian ships by Moscow sparked a major new crisis. reports this was stated by the President and founder of the ALFAAZ Education and Culture Society, visiting Faculty at Centre for Central Eurasian Research Center Dr Shoaib Khan while commenting on the invitation of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Russia and Ukraine.

He states that Turkey is still not keen to see any further escalation in the conflict between its fellow Black Sea littoral states which could bring further instability to the region:

"On November 29, 2021, Turkey was ready to take part in resolving the situation in eastern Ukraine, offering mediation in settlement talks between Ukraine and Russia but the proposal was rejected by Moscow."

In his statement, Shoaib Khan also mentions that it is for Turkey that war breaking out to its north is not an outcome it would like to see, given its robust ties to Ukraine and Russia:

"Erdogan has been so anxious to see a de-escalation in the Donbas, a conflict in which Turkey has limited direct interests at stake has to do with the difficult balancing act the Turkish President has attempted to strike between Moscow and Kyiv. In recent years, Turkey has become a significant supplier of military equipment and funds to Ukraine. To date, Ankara has agreed to provide modern warships to the Ukrainian navy as well as armed drones and contracts for joint military-industrial projects. Turkey has also become Ukraine's largest investor despite the COVID-19 pandemic interfering in global trade.

With Russia, Turkey has maintained a relationship that has been described as "cooperative competition." Relations between Erdogan and Putin may be war, but their nations clashed throughout 2020 in the Middle East, North Africa and the South Caucasus in duels echoing the legacy of historical competition between the two. Russia remains Turkey's largest energy supplier, and Ankara has gone ahead with its acquisition of the S-400 missile system, even at the cost of rupturing relations with the United States."

The analytic further explains the main objective of the relations between the two countries:

"The Turkish-Russian relationship is marred by bureaucratic distrust, which is papered over by a very functional leader-to-leader dynamic that enables the two Black Sea neighbours to cooperate and manage numerous regional conflicts. The Turkish-Ukrainian dynamic, in turn, is part of a broader Turkish effort to establish itself as an independent actor, committed to pursuing a foreign policy that often clashes with much of the NATO alliance.

Ankara’s relationship with Moscow is multi-faceted and often misunderstood. Turkey was a bulwark against the Soviet Union during the Cold War, but Turkish national elites have always been aware of the country’s close proximity to its larger neighbour, and have sought to manage ties with the leadership in Moscow. In the decades following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Turkish elites have debated Ankara’s role in the world, the country’s alliance with the United States, and how best to maximize Turkish interests in the former Soviet space. In general, there is a consensus in Turkey that Ankara has considerable economic and political interests in deepening its relationships with all of its neighbours, including Russia."

The Indian expert mentions that Ankara appears to be betting that the crisis on Ukraine’s borders can be resolved diplomatically. Yet Russian officials perceive Ankara’s military-technical relationship with Kyiv and its involvement with the Crimean Tatar community as provocative gestures:

"When it comes to Ukraine, Turkey is no ordinary NATO member. It has recently been selling armed drones to Kyiv some of which the Ukrainian military has already used in Donbas, to great effect, against pro-Russian targets. Turkey is also a close ally of Russia, and a key trading partner and Ankara has been careful not to step on Moscow’s toes across different conflict zones."

The expert mentions that under Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin, Turkey and Russia share much more than meets the eye:

"The two resurgent powers want to shake up the post-Soviet world order, they each have a disdain for liberal norms, and they both want a greater role on the world stage for their respective countries. Turkey and Russia have also developed a unique form of relationship, often dubbed competitive cooperation, whereby they back opposing sides in conflicts in Libya, Syria, and the South Caucasus but do so in a way that recognises each other’s expanding sphere of influence.

Moscow, for its part, has also been careful not to alienate Ankara perhaps because of mutual economic interests, or because it simply wants to deepen the wedge between Ankara and its NATO allies. Whatever the Kremlin’s motivation, the United States and NATO would be wise to make use of the assets that the Alliance’s second-largest military brings to the table especially the diplomatic wisdom gained from managing centuries of conflict and cooperation with Russia."

In conclusion, the expert reveals one more noticeable point:

"Ankara supports Ukraine’s territorial integrity, it reportedly continues to purchase the Donbass-produced coal from Russia. Coal mines in Eastern Ukraine are controlled by the Russia-backed forces and the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic and Lugansk People’s Republic export the Ukrainian coal to Russia. Moscow then re-exports it to several countries, including Turkey. In the Russo-Turkish-Ukrainian triangle, Ankara seems to have the most pragmatic position."

2022.01.21 / 10:24
Tural Azimzadeh
Memorial Zefer
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