Tensions over Ukraine are escalating and there is increasing talk of new wars in Europe, in a crisis that is the most dangerous since the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union, especially with the failure of Russia’s negotiations with America, the European Union and NATO to reach any result until today.
Ukraine attaches great importance to cooperation with Turkey in the defense industry, as it considers it its most important partner in this field, and has relied on it in the process of Kiev’s transition from the former Soviet army system to standards that allow it to join NATO, even if there is still no clear possibility For the Membership Action Plan towards joining the Atlantic Military Alliance, the military training and equipment provided by Turkey to Azerbaijan gave a decisive advantage and completely overcame the Armenian forces with their training and Russian supplies, during the second Karabakh war in late 2020.
Turkey, a NATO member, has close relations with Kiev and Moscow, but it opposes Russia’s policies in Syria and Libya, as well as Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, has much to lose in the event of a military clash between Russia and Ukraine, and presents itself today as a mediator. Between Moscow and Kiev.
At a time when Ukraine continues to seek to enter the European and NATO structures, the relations of military, security and economic cooperation between Ukraine and Turkey have reached an unprecedented strategic level in the history of bilateral relations, according to which Turkey has become the main source of drones for the Ukrainian army, in addition to other broad areas of cooperation and joint manufacturing. .
Ukraine attaches great importance to cooperation with Turkey in the defense industries, as it considers it its most important partner in this field, and relies on it in the process of Kiev’s transition from the former Soviet army system to standards that allow it to join NATO, even if there is still no clear possibility For the membership action plan towards joining the Atlantic Military Alliance, where the military training and equipment, which Turkey provided to Azerbaijan, gave a decisive advantage, and completely overcame the Armenian forces with their training and Russian supplies, during the second Karabakh war in late 2020.
During a joint press conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on April 10, 2021, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed Turkey’s support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity, including Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014. Erdogan did not fail to stress that military cooperation with Ukraine is not directed to third countries, and expressed his belief in the possibility of solving the crisis by political means, and his support for the Minsk agreements.
Concurrent with continuing strategic cooperation with Russia on a variety of issues, Turkey has provided more than just rhetorical support to Ukraine, leading Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to warn Turkey and others not to “discourage Ukraine’s military ambitions.”
Turkish media quoted Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu as saying, “Our position on the Crimean peninsula is well-known, and no one should harm us by selling drones to Ukraine, this is business.” At the same time, he noted that “Moscow provides missiles to anti-Turkish parties or other countries, and that Ankara does not question its actions.”
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Turkey and Russia have developed relations in various fields, and trade was one of the most important of these areas. There are joint investments and commercial projects, where the volume of trade exchange reached about $30 billion in 2021, and Moscow has succeeded in being a partner in Turkey’s efforts to diversify its energy sources. Through the construction of the Akkuyu nuclear power plant for atomic energy generation in Turkey, which is being implemented by Rosatom, Turkey is highly dependent on Russia in the natural gas sector, and at the same time it wants to serve as an international energy center among Western consumers, along with attempts Russia is building new pipelines for its production, and this served as the basis for joint projects between the two countries, the latest of which is the TurkStream pipeline project, which is a pipeline to transport natural gas from Russia to both Turkey and Europe via the Black Sea.
Russian President Vladimir Putin played his cards very cleverly when Turkey felt insufficient support from the West while facing international and domestic threats, after the downing of a Russian plane by the Turkish military in 2015, and during the failed coup in Turkey in 2016, while Western leaders in both cases hesitated to express On their support for Erdogan, Putin saw an opportunity in the coup attempt, and was among the first to call the Turkish president after the event. These developments built a broader foundation for Turkish-Russian cooperation. In addition to energy policy interests, and resentment toward the West, the personal chemistry between Presidents Erdogan and Putin has recently emerged.
Relations developed to the extent that Turkey obtained the Russian S-400 missile system and risked leaving the manufacture of the American F-35 combat aircraft. Expressing its disappointment with Washington and an attempt to free itself from its dependence on Western suppliers in its defense system. For Putin, the deal was a blow to NATO, and the introduction of Russian weapons into the military system of a NATO member led to tensions between Turkey and its allies, and weakened the internal cohesion of the Western alliance, and cooperation and coordination between Ankara and Moscow continued despite the conflict of interests and differing positions in Libya and Syria. The possibility of confrontation or cooperation between Ankara and Moscow in regional conflicts depends on current priorities rather than past rivalries, and the form and extent of their cooperation is not determined by which party to the conflict they stand for, but by their respective motives. Relations between Ankara and Moscow are based on mutual recognition of security interests .
It remains to be said, in light of the beating of the war drums between Russia, Ukraine and NATO, that Turkey finds itself in an unenviable position, due to the complexity of its relations with the parties to the conflict, which threatens to erupt a confrontation at any moment, and Turkey may be the biggest loser after Russia and Ukraine in the event of any clash. Military, and its standing by Russia will complicate its relations with its NATO allies, and if it chooses to stand against Russia, this will lose it many of the military and political papers that Moscow secured for it, especially in Syria, in addition to economic consequences, and it is true that it is in Turkey’s interest to remain neutral in case The outbreak of a military confrontation between Russia and Ukraine, but choosing a position in the middle may make all parties lose, and based on all the above facts highlights the importance of Turkey’s call for mediation between its neighbors Moscow and Kiev.