Turkey’s Stake in Ukraine War
The foreign ministers of Ukraine and Russia are to meet for talks on the sidelines of the Antalya Diplomatic Forum. The talks will be held in “trilateral format”: that is, with Turkey present in the room as a mediator.
How is the relationship between Turkey and Russia?
- Turkey, as the gateway between Europe and Asia, is a country of many parts. It is a member of NATO, and was at one time thought to be a natural fit for membership in the EU.
- Russia is a friend of Turkey but also an age-old geopolitical rival, going back to the Russo-Ottoman wars.
- For Turkey, Moscow’s annexation of Crimea has been a nagging concern. Turkey’s President has said Turkey will never recognise this “illegal” action.
- Russia’s proximity to the PKK, the Turkish Kurdish rebel group, from the Soviet Union days is a major irritant for Turkey.
- In Syria, Russia and Turkey fought on opposite sides, Russia to preserve the Bashar al-Assad presidency, and Turkey on the side of groups fighting him.
- Russia is now among Turkey’s main trade partners. Turkey’s economy depends heavily on imports from Russia mainly on refined petroleum.
- There is a gas pipeline now under the Black Sea from Russia to Turkey.
- In 2020, Turkey bought the S 400 Triumf surface-to-air missile defence system from Russia, and was sanctioned by the United States under its CAATSA law.
- Russia is building a nuclear power plant in Ayukku in southern Turkey.
Relationship between Turkey & Ukraine:
- Turkey a major exporter to Ukraine. The biggest export in 2019 was refined petroleum.
- Turkey also supplies Ukraine with a lethal missile carrier drone.
- An FTA was signed in 2022.
Turkey to mediate:
- In its efforts to mediate, Turkey is seeking to take on the role of the regional leader.
- It may also help Erdogan shed his image in the West as an authoritarian leader.
- It is also seeking to protect its considerable economic interests in the region, the stability of the Black Sea and the Turkish straits, its defence relations with both countries, and its oil and gas supplies from Russia.
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