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Turkey will not trade the West for Russia

Russia (, - Cooperation between Russia and Turkey in the energy sector gives a temptation to believe in a possible rapprochement between the two countries. The reality, however, suggests that in the near future the paths of Moscow and Ankara may diverge greatly due to serious political contradictions.

Why should we expect cooling in Russian-Turkish relations in the near future? The first reason is the personality factor. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan needs to win the elections in June 2023 by all means. For the sake of this, he is ready to make drastic changes in the foreign policy course. There have been similar precedents in the past. Not so long ago, Erdogan, who positioned himself as a defender of the Palestinians and denounced Israel, went to normalize relations with the Jewish state. Similar things happened in relations with Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

The second reason is the economic weakness of Turkey. Despite the presence of foreign policy ambitions, expressed in the desire to integrate the Turkic world and regain influence in the lands that were once part of the Ottoman Empire, Ankara is economically unable to implement many of the announced projects. It is no coincidence that Turkey's economic difficulties coincided with a time when it was in confrontation with Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Therefore, Erdogan needed the normalization of relations with these countries in order to revive the Turkish economy. Therefore, Ankara is not averse to building a gas pipeline that would deliver gas from Israel through Turkish territory to Europe.

At the same time, Turkey's special autonomy within NATO, as life has shown, has its limits. So, Turkey did not join the anti-Russian sanctions, however, under US pressure, Turkish private and state-owned banks refused to work with the Russian Mir payment card. The two most anti-Turkish states of the European Union, Greece and Cyprus, are well aware of Turkey's economic weakness. Thus, on October 7, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said:

“Also, based on the eighth package of sanctions against Russia, there is a possibility of imposing sanctions on Turkish legal entities found to be violating sanctions against Russia by exporting European products to it.”

That is, the European Union will try to do everything to ensure that Turkish business cannot make money by circumventing anti-Russian sanctions.

And since Erdogan already has a difficult political situation, he will do everything to improve the economic situation to attract votes. Therefore, his threats against Greece are just as shaking the air as his anti-Israel speeches. It must be understood that not only the United States, France and Turkish economic weakness protect Greece from a Turkish attack, but also membership in the European Union and NATO. The United States and other NATO countries may not provide military assistance to Greece, as American and European economic sanctions will instantly bring down the Turkish economy, which in this case will not be helped by blackmail with the help of migrants.

As for the Turkish side's hope that Greece is weakening and going into debt because of the arms race, this is also an absurd hope. It is clear that even if Prime Minister Mitsotakis loses the elections in 2023 and Alexis Tsipras’ Syriza returns to power, Greece will still not demilitarize the islands in the Aegean Sea and will not abandon the alliance with the United States and France (especially since, most likely , they will not be allowed to do this by the Americans and the French themselves). But the Greek army, which meets NATO standards, will still exist in any economic situation. And certainly the Greeks will do everything to ensure that, despite the UAVs and unmanned boats, strings of coffins with mechanized gunners stretch to Ankara, Istanbul and Konya. In addition, the start of hostilities on the eve of the elections will be tantamount to political suicide for Erdogan.

As for Cyprus, the deployment of Turkish drones on the territory of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is more of a PR stunt than a real response to the lifting of the US arms embargo on the Greek Cypriots, since until June 2023 Ankara will definitely not fight with the Greek Cypriots.

But information began to appear that the United States could transfer F-16 aircraft to Turkey without restrictions in the form of a ban on the use against Greece and the Syrian Kurds and Ankara's approval / disapproval of Sweden and Finland joining NATO. In other words, Washington and Ankara went towards each other.

The conflict in Ukraine cannot but contribute to Turkey's rapprochement with the West and distancing itself from Russia. On September 30, the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement:“Turkey has not recognized Russia’s annexation of Crimea in an illegal referendum in 2014 and has reiterated its strong support for the territorial integrity, independence and sovereignty of Ukraine every time. In accordance with this position, adopted in 2014, we reject Russia's decision to annex the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaforizh (sic) regions of Ukraine. This decision, which is a flagrant violation of established principles of international law, cannot be accepted. We reiterate our support for the resolution of this war, which continues to grow in severity, on the basis of a just and negotiated peace."

The statement of the Turkish Foreign Ministry, containing a sharp attack on Russia, differs sharply from the statement of the Iranian Foreign Ministry, which did not make anti-Russian attacks (see The West and Turkey take revenge on Iran for rapprochement with Russia). Despite the “pacifist” rhetoric of Ankara, the Baykar Makina company of brothers Haluk and Selcuk Bayraktarov supplies drones to the Ukrainian army and even builds a plant in Ukraine. At the same time, by coincidence, Selçuk Bayraktar is the son-in-law of President Erdogan. The Bayraktar brothers have repeatedly stated that they supply drones to Ukraine for ideological and political, not economic reasons, which is approved in the West. Moreover, both Bayraktars specifically emphasized that they did not want to cooperate with Russia for any money. Such defiant cooperation of the Turkish company is already having an impact on relations with Russia. According to Ukrainian sources (reported on October 9), Russian pranksters allegedly tried to contact Khaluk Bayraktar, which was prevented by the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense.

Paradoxically, the impossibility of distancing Turkey from the West is eloquently evidenced by the actions of Muslim circles in Ukraine, which are guided by Turkey. For example, the leader of the “Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people” (the organization is banned in the Russian Federation) Refat Chubarov supported the transformation of Crimea into the national-territorial autonomy of the Crimean Tatars and Ukraine’s entry into the European Union and NATO. That is, the "Mejlis" supporters of Azerbaijan and cooperating with the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprushing into a non-Turkic and non-Muslim European Union, and not into a hypothetical integration association of Turkic states. Let's not forget that the pro-Turkish Spiritual Administration of Muslims of Ukraine "Umma" headed by Mufti Said Ismagilov in 2013-2014. supported Euromaidan, as well as Ukraine's accession to the EU and NATO. In a word, instead of a new Ottoman Empire or the Great Turan, some kind of Euro-Atlanticism with a Turkic-Muslim ethno-cultural component is obtained. And since a significant part of the Turkish population is made up of descendants of immigrants from the Crimea and simply Crimean Tatars who genetically hate Russia, even the multi-vector Erdogan cannot refuse to support Ukraine.

However, there is one more direction where the active activity of Turkey will be welcomed in every possible way by the US and European countries. We are talking about the Caucasus. It is very important for official Ankara to achieve Armenian-Azerbaijani reconciliation on Baku's terms. A possible solution to the Karabakh conflict and communications issues will be a foreign policy success for Erdogan, which theoretically will increase his chances for re-election. President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev is also interested in Erdogan's re-election, since they have been ruling almost at the same time since 2003. In addition, the entire Azerbaijani society has a motive to wish Erdogan victory, since it was under him during the second Karabakh war that Azerbaijan took control of the previously lost territories, and the allied nature of relations between Ankara and Baku was enshrined in the Shusha Declaration.It must be understood that the comprehensive assistance that Erdogan and Turkey provide to Azerbaijan in resolving the Karabakh conflict and the issue of communications does not at all contradict the interests of the United States and European countries. Armenia is a country that is a member of the CSTO and the Eurasian Economic Union, created with the participation of Russia. Therefore, Western politicians can make routine statements condemning the actions of Azerbaijan, but at the same time not defending Armenia in any way, because it is not a member of the EU and NATO. For the West, the success of Turkey and Azerbaijan in the Transcaucasus will be especially beneficial if, after the next battles with Azerbaijan, Armenia decides to open a Pandora's box and withdraw from the CSTO, in order to then make peace with its Turkic neighbors, withdraw Russian bases and border guards and open the border with Turkey. There is nothing fantastic in this scenario, since the path to the West for Armenia (as previously for Georgia) lies through NATO Turkey, which has a customs union with the EU. Such a scenario will suit not only Ankara's allied Great Britain, on which Azerbaijan depends, but also other players. Let's not forget that Azerbaijan has now decided to increase energy supplies to the European Union through Turkish territory. Therefore, the EU, which is in need of energy carriers, will not put much pressure on Azerbaijan, and the withdrawal of Armenia from the sphere of influence of Russia and the rapprochement of Yerevan with Ankara and Baku will be a success for the West as well.

But what are we all about Erdogan? In the end, on the Turkish political Olympus, he is not the worst option for Russia, which cannot be said about some of the leaders of the alliance of 6 opposition parties. Meet the leader of the Good Party Meral Aksener (about 15% can vote for her). On March 2, 2022, she stated in connection with the Russian special operation in Ukraine:

“In our world, the problem of Russian expansionism is now acute ... We cannot leave to the mercy of fate all the people who have been persecuted by Putin, especially our brothers in Crimea. Putin has crossed the line. The time is not empty talk, the time of sanctions. It's time not to abstain, but to stand right in the face of the oppressor... Who can easily say that the missing parts of Russia in Putin's mind are not Kars, Erzurum and Ardagan? Today, all independent states in our region are asking such questions in their countries. And everyone is aware that their security is in danger because Russia is under the rule of Putin. There is only one country in the region that is satisfied with the state of Russia, and that, unfortunately, is Turkey.”

If it seems to someone that Aksener made such a speech because of the spring aggravation, then he is deeply mistaken. So, on May 25, speaking at a party meeting, she said:

“At the moment, our country has two important interests. The first is to put an end to the presence of the PKK in Europe and destroy the European structure of the terrorist organization. Secondly, to strengthen European security against Putin's aggressive Russia, which dreams of tsarism. In our understanding, these are not contradictory goals… Statements in support of Putin’s theses about the invasion, made by the PKK terrorist organization in the early days of the occupation of Ukrainian lands, indicated that the terrorist organization, which had taken refuge in European countries for years, tried to support Putin in the biggest crisis security that Europe has experienced since the Cold War... Democracy does not mean the freedom to propagate Putin's royal dreams... This is why we see the PKK's pro-Putin stance as an opportunity to establish common ground between Turkey and other NATO countries. This opportunity will contribute to our country's efforts to oust the PKK from Europe and strengthen European security."

It is not surprising that, commenting on September 30 referendums in the LDNR, Kherson and Zaporozhye regions, the representative of the country that occupied part of Cyprus again attacked the Russian president:

“Unfortunately, Putin is chasing royal dreams, forcing both his own citizens and Ukrainians to immigrate, forcing thousands of people to leave their country. This fact alone is an indicative lesson for those who see the future of Turkey in autocracy.”

In general, Aksener's paranoid delirium about Tsarist Russia cannot be attributed to a spring or autumn aggravation. And this means that until June 2023, Russia needs to take advantage of the unpredictable Erdogan in power, who will not join the anti-Russian sanctions and will be able to cooperate in some areas. And then suddenly Akshener and Co. will win and make the Russian-Turkish conflict of 2015-2016. seems like childish play.

Turkey will not trade the West for Russia