Turkey’s Search for Balance in the Russia-Ukraine Crisis: Expectations from Turkey will increase even more

Turkey called Russia’s attack against Ukraine “an unacceptable, clear violation of international law”; He used the term “military operation” in the statement. Ukraine, on the other hand, demanded that Turkey close the Black Sea to Russian ships after the Russian offensive began.

Turkey, which has a defense relationship with Ukraine through the sale of armed drones, and also has commercial and political relations with Russia, is also on the agenda of experts in Washington. Analysts are of the opinion that expectations from Turkey as a NATO member will increase in the upcoming period and Ankara will have to make some choices.

The stance of Turkey, a NATO member and riparian with both Russia and Ukraine in the Black Sea, was discussed in the panel organized by the German Marshall Fund (GMF), headquartered in Washington.

Russia expert Maryna Varotnyuk said, “After 2014, when Crimea was annexed by Russia, Turkey tried to develop its policy of deterrence against Moscow and completed this with an approach that also considered the strategic partnership developed and Russia’s important role in the regional architecture. At this point, Turkey may have to make choices that are not so easy,” she says.

Ukraine’s request and the Montreux Convention

Turkey expert Galip Dalay evaluated Ankara’s statement and attitude after Russia launched its attack on Ukraine.

Galip Dalay predicted that Turkey will take a position depending on how long the crisis will last and the stance of Western countries.

Dalay said, “The expressions used in the statements coming from Ankara also reflect Turkey’s stance on this issue. On the one hand, Turkey rejected Russia’s decision to recognize the independence of the two separatist regions, while on the other hand, in a carefully written Foreign Ministry statement, it called for dialogue and did not use the word war. If the word war is used, it will have consequences for Turkey’s approach to the Montreux Convention. In such a case, Turkey will have an obligation to limit the passage of ships, even if it does not completely close the straits,” he said.

Reminding the request of the Ukrainian Ambassador to Turkey to close the straits to Russian ships, Galip Dalay said, “I don’t think this will happen anytime soon unless Turkey describes what is happening as a war. How Turkey evaluates this depends on how long the crisis will last and, more importantly, how ready the West is to confront Russia. Turkey will significantly look at the West’s position to determine its own position,” he said.

Stating that three factors are effective in Turkey’s attitude towards the Russia-Ukraine crisis, Galip Dalay said, “There is a deepening economic crisis in Turkey. Ukraine and Russia account for 30 percent of tourism. Secondly, in conflict zones such as the Middle East and the Southern Caucasus, Turkey is exposed to Russia too much due to its interdependence. Thirdly, this crisis coincides with a period when Turkey’s relations with the West are in crisis.” shared his opinion.

“Turkey will have to adapt to the new era as a NATO member”

Liana Fix, one of the experts of the German Marshall Fund (GMF), said that Turkey will have to adapt to the new period in the next stages.

Fix said, “Of course, we will not see a NATO-Russia war in the coming period, but we will see crises in which tensions increase at the NATO-Russia-Europe plane. For example, on issues such as the positioning of missile systems. In addition, there may be a situation of continuous economic conflict with mutual sanctions or cyber attacks and blackmail in retaliation for European sanctions.

How will Turkey position itself?

Stating that the news from the field after Russia’s attack on Ukraine pointed out that Ukraine was using Turkish-made unmanned aerial vehicles, Liana Fix said that Russian President Vladimir Putin used the expression “Those who try to get involved in the conflict face results they have never seen before” in his speech in which he announced the attack on Ukraine. reminded me.

GMF expert said, “According to the news from the region, Turkish-made unmanned aerial vehicles were used in the field in eastern Ukraine. However, how will Turkey position itself in the future, for example, in the phase of directly supplying weapons to the Ukrainian resistance? There was a clear threat in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s speech to all NATO members who would try to get involved in the conflict. “The situation could get worse than what we see today,” he said.

“Expectation from Turkey will increase even more”

The new US Ambassador to Ankara, Jeff Flake, shared on his social media account that Turkey welcomes Putin’s refusal to recognize the independence of the two separatist regions in eastern Ukraine.

GMF Democracy Initiatives Director Jonathan Katz recalled the words of the American ambassador and stated that Turkey is an important NATO member and the third country that contributes the most to NATO missions.

Katz said that as the positions of the forces change within the scope of NATO, there will be an expectation that Turkey will become a country that contributes more significantly.

Jonathan Katz brought up Turkey’s request for the F-16, which was the target of US sanctions for purchasing the S-400 missile defense system from Russia and was excluded from the F-35 program; “I hope this will be a period in which the process is accelerated. Sitting in two different chairs will no longer be viable. This will not be a short war. Turkey cannot sit in two seats at once. New sanctions are coming from the USA and these decisions are taken together with allies and partners. In this case, Turkey will be asked to do more,” he said.

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