Illiya Kusa writes for Carnegie Endowment for International Peace about Ankara’s movements between Kiev and Moscow.
To date, given the recent agreement on the grain release, Turkey remains a key player in the tangled relationship between Russia, Ukraine and the West.
Turkish ambivalence has opened the eyes of the Ukrainian ruling classes and public opinion. Before, they did not want to see ?
Because Ankara has never hidden that its relationship with Kiev did not eliminate its strategic partnership with Moscow.
Kusa writes, on the relationship between Turkey and Ukraine: (…) neither side viewed the other as a long-term strategic partner or military and political ally. The relationship was built upon ad hoc and selective cooperation, such as in the manufacturing of combat drones, construction of transport infrastructure, grain trade, solidarity over Crimea, and Black Sea shipping security issues.
Again the author, on the relationship between Turkey and Russia: For Ankara, Russia has always been a more valuable economic and security partner than Ukraine. In pursuing its national interests, Turkey has been willing to ignore not only Kiev’s opinion, but also that of its Western allies, such as when it joined the Russian TurkStream pipeline project to bypass Ukrainian territory in transporting Russian gas to Europe. It also bought S-400 missile systems from Moscow, despite criticism from the US and NATO.
In short, we must continue to reckon with Erdogan’s ongoing balancing act as he works to make Turkey, with clear contradictions that are also its strategic (and complex) point, a major regional and global player. The realisation of own national interest also weighs on Ankara’s side.