Well-known Think Tank: “Hot” duet Erdoğan-Putin- The motives that “hide” behind their movements!

Both Moscow and Ankara benefit from Turkey’s mediating role after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – Strategically, however, Putin has the upper hand

Mark Pierini, a senior fellow at Carnegie Europe, where his research focuses on developments in the Middle East and Turkey from a European perspective, tries to decipher Erdogan’s relationship with Putin in an op-ed in the prestigious media, the highlights of which are the following:

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Turkey has been pursuing a “balanced approach” to Moscow and Kyiv and has been playing a key role in various ways.

He condemned the invasion and closed the Turkish Straits. It facilitates dialogue between warring parties. And he has cultivated and monitored a grain export agreement with the UN.

Turkey’s role is welcome under these tragic circumstances. However, such a balancing act is a costly gamble, not only for Ankara but also for the international community.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is sparing no effort in trying to play mediator regarding Russia and Ukraine: phone calls, visits, facilitating meetings, negotiating the grain deal—including running the deal’s monitoring center in Istanbul and naval escorts for the ships grain transport.

A carefully planned communication policy projects a positive image of the president’s role, which in turn is expected to help the domestic political scene ahead of the June 2023 presidential and parliamentary elections. Even if Turkey’s efforts are somewhat inflated for domestic purposes, Western capitals see any bit of goodwill as welcome and therefore praise Ankara’s efforts.

The economic motives that are “hidden”

There are, however, two other sides to this diplomatic “choreography”: Turkey has significant economic motivations behind its peace efforts, and Russia is seeking significant strategic gains for itself.

The additional benefits of Turkey’s diplomatic efforts are notable. For one thing, fees for merchant ships passing through the Turkish Straits have just increased fivefold as sea traffic picks up again.

See also  Does Canada build its own military equipment?

The number of Russian expatriates in Turkey, as well as their real estate investments and financial transfers to Turkish banks, have increased significantly. In addition, Russia is suspected of trying to circumvent some of the effects of Western sanctions through Turkey, particularly by acquiring stakes in Turkish oil companies, as joint ventures help cloud the oil trade.

More importantly, Ukrainian experts claimed that some of the grain exported through the grain deal had actually been stolen from Ukrainian facilities in the occupied Donbas region. Although difficult to substantiate, such a simulation would not come as much of a surprise in the field of international trade sanctions.

Likewise, Turkey is trying hard to maintain and develop its relationship with the Ukrainian military industry, including through the continued sales and supply of Bayraktar drones, with the ultimate goal of sourcing aircraft engines from the Ukrainian aerospace industry for its own needs. Despite the risk of incurring the Kremlin’s wrath, such a relationship is essential to the development of Turkey’s drone industry, which is currently more advanced than Europe’s.

More importantly, Turkey has entered into an economic relationship with Russia.

Given the country’s dire economic situation, exacerbated by an irrational interest rate policy, Ankara is trying hard to secure financial facilities or currency swap agreements with partners such as China, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Now, according to Bloomberg, a financial deal tied to the construction of Russia’s Akkuyu nuclear power plant has resulted in a $15 billion advance from Russian nuclear company Rosatom so that its Turkish partner can immediately procure critical equipment. for the construction of the factory and thus avoid possible sanctions. The inflow of hard currency over the next two years is a welcome short-term improvement to the country’s depleted reserves.

See also  Bayraktar: The Turks also bring out the huge Akinci

On the contrary, the benefits of Russia
Nor are Russia’s own benefits insignificant.

First, the grain deal drawn up by Turkey and the UN secretary-general conveys the image of a conciliatory stance on Russia’s part, when there were never sanctions on food exports from Russia or occupied Ukrainian territory. The agreement also includes Russian authorities in a multilateral monitoring mechanism based in Istanbul, thus mitigating the perception of a diplomatically isolated Russia.

Second, the Rosatom financial deal is a not-so-secret way for Russia to implement a very difficult industrial deal with Turkey while avoiding predictable sanctions on critical equipment. By the same token, it provides Erdogan with a much-welcomed economic breather—a fine gesture with potential electoral benefits for the incumbent.

Third, by denying Ankara the green light for a new military operation in northeastern Syria, the Kremlin has forced Ankara to engage in discreet dialogue with the Assad regime—while Erdogan has so far strongly opposed Bashar al-Assad and even advocated his removal from the power.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, by keeping Erdogan on his side (despite multiple political and military disagreements), Russian President Vladimir Putin is consolidating his 2009 achievement of delivering S-400 missile systems to Turkey, which is driving a wedge between NATO partners.

The Kremlin’s policy is extremely pragmatic: knowing that Turkey’s NATO partners want to keep it in the North Atlantic Alliance and Ankara has every interest in staying in NATO, Putin’s goal remains to anchor Erdogan more and more in Russia through a vast network of mutually beneficial enterprises in the fields of defense, energy, trade and finance.

Related Posts