Turkey-NATO Daily

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Turkey will turn to Russia without NATO

Jared Malsin, 1-22, 2022, WSJ, F-16 Sale Could Mend U.S., Turkey Ties, but Tension With Russia Intrudes, https://www.wsj.com/articles/f-16-sale-could-mend-u-s-turkey-ties-but-tension-with-russia-intrudes-11642847406?mod=hp_lead_pos3

The Biden administration is weighing a Turkish proposal to buy a fleet of F-16 jet fighters that officials in Ankara say would mend ruptured security links between the countries, but the sale faces opposition from members of Congress critical of Turkey’s growing ties to Russia. Senior Turkish officials say the deal could be a lifeline for their relationship with the U.S., which has suffered for years over Turkey’s purchases of Russian arms, clashing interests in the war in Syria and U.S. criticism of Ankara’s human-rights record. And in both countries, analysts say blocking the sale could push Ankara closer to Russia. The prospect of F-16 sales to Turkey, a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, comes as Russia is testing the alliance’s resolve on the Ukrainian border, where Moscow has deployed tens of thousands of troops and prompted fears of an invasion. The deal has its origin in 1999, when Turkey joined the American-led international consortium building the F-35 advanced jet fighter. In 2017, Ankara decided to buy the Russian S-400 air defense system over objections from the U.S., which feared it could hack into the F-35s. In response, two years later the U.S. expelled Turkey from the F-35 program. With the F-35 out of reach, the new F-16s would replace aging F-16s and F-4 jets in Turkey’s fleet. But the proposed sale faces resistance from lawmakers who take a dim view of the S-400 purchase, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s close relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Turkish policies in the eastern Mediterranean, U.S. officials and congressional aides said. The Biden administration hasn’t signaled whether it will back the F-16 deal. U.S. arms export control laws require the administration to notify Congress of proposed foreign military sales, giving lawmakers a chance to review and oppose or try to block a deal. The administration hasn’t formally notified Congress about the proposed F-16 sale. “It would hit speed bumps,” a congressional aide said. “The question is would those speed bumps break it apart, or would it be able to make it over them?” The proposed deal illustrates the complex national-security issues in the U.S. relationship with Turkey, a NATO ally and regional power that hosts thousands of American soldiers. The decades-old security relationship between Ankara and Washington has become strained in recent years as Mr. Erdogan has formed closer ties with Russia. Turkey has also attacked U.S.-backed Kurdish militias in Syria. Meanwhile, Mr. Erdogan said in November that Turkey was ready to mediate between Ukraine and Russia. The U.S. is negotiating with Turkish officials over the sale, according to Turkish officials. A chief adviser to Mr. Erdogan, Ibrahim Kalin, inquired about the deal during a call on Jan. 10 with White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan, according to a person familiar with the discussion. A National Security Council spokesman declined to comment. “The United States and Turkey have longstanding and deep bilateral defense ties, and Turkey’s continued NATO interoperability remains a priority,” a State Department spokesman said. Several NATO member states fly F-16s, including Turkey. Current and former Turkish officials said the F-16 deal, if approved, would arrest the NATO ally’s drift toward Russia. Beyond the S-400 deal, Mr. Erdogan last fall said he had discussed with Russia ramping up defense cooperation, including on fighter planes and jet engines. “Turkey is an important player in the game and it has to be kept in the Western fold,” said Ilnur Cevik, a chief foreign-policy adviser to Mr. Erdogan. The S-400 purchase drove a rift between the two countries that has resisted repair. Mr. Cevik said the country hasn’t yet deployed the missile batteries, though Mr. Erdogan has said he wants to buy more. Russian S-400 air defense systems in Moscow last May. PHOTO: MAXIM SHIPENKOV/SHUTTERSTOCK “[The F-16 sale] is a brilliant way out,” said James Jeffrey, a former U.S. ambassador to Turkey who is now with the Wilson Center, a Washington think tank. “The problem is there’s such a negative attitude about Turkey, particularly in the U.S. Congress, that I’m afraid people are going to stumble over it.” The deal faces significant skepticism among key senators who object to Turkey’s purchase of the Russian missile system, according to congressional aides. The leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sens. Robert Menendez (D., N.J.) and James Risch (R., Idaho), have yet to take public positions on the deal. In the House, a group of members from both parties, including members of the pro-Greek Hellenic Caucus, objected to the deal in letters to Secretary of State Antony Blinken last year, citing Ankara’s Russian arms purchases and Turkey’s dispute with Greece over maritime borders in the Mediterranean. “Our concern is, if we’re giving them military equipment, if they are going to be continuing to act in this aggressive manner towards Cyprus, toward the Greek islands,” said Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R., N.Y.). “We’re concerned about our intellectual property being shared with Russia. [Turkey] is acting in many ways like an adversary.” SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS Should Congress support the sale of F-16 jet fighters to Turkey? Why or why not? Join the conversation below. Current and former Turkish officials say sinking the F-16 deal would punish Turkey’s defense establishment, which remains broadly aligned with the U.S. and opposed to Russia despite Mr. Erdogan’s relationship with Mr. Putin. “They do need these aircraft,” said Charles Forrester, a lead analyst for Janes, a defense industry publication. “The challenge for them, though, is that the S-400 situation hasn’t really been resolved in a public way.” If Turkey can’t buy the U.S. jets, it could go shopping in Moscow, which offers its Su-35 fighter and Su-57 stealth fighter, as well as the Checkmate, Russia’s proposed fifth-generation, single-engine stealth fighter, analysts said. British sanctions over Turkey’s incursion into Syria would hinder Ankara’s purchase of the Eurofighter Typhoon, and France is unlikely to approve a sale of its Dassault Rafale fighters, in part because it sold planes to Turkey’s rival Greece last year, said Mr. Forrester. Senior Turkish officials have said Ankara wouldn’t join the Russian camp, but analysts say the possible collapse of the F-16 deal could drive Erdogan closer to Moscow. “They may go to the Russians,” Mr. Jeffrey, the former ambassador, said. “And then you’ll have a descending spiral of accusations and bad feelings, and it will just reinforce going in the wrong direction. That’s why the F-16 is so important.”

Turkey will negotiate an end to the Ukraine crisis

Daily Sabah, 1-21, 22, , Turkey wants peace to prevail in region: Erdoğan on Ukraine crisis, https://www.dailysabah.com/politics/diplomacy/turkey-wants-peace-to-prevail-in-region-erdogan-on-ukraine-crisis

Turkey aims for peace to prevail and hopes no other adverse developments will take place in the region, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said as Turkey has intensified its diplomatic efforts for a mediator role to de-escalate tensions between Russia and Ukraine while the international community is worried about a large-scale war. “A psychology of war in the region upsets us, as a country that has ties with both sides. Our hope is to bring together Mr. (Russian President Vladimir) Putin and (Ukrainian President Volodymyr) Zelenskyy as soon as possible and to ensure that they have a face-to-face meeting,” Erdoğan said Thursday after a joint news conference with El Salvador President Nayib Bukele in the Turkish capital Ankara, in which they signed six agreements as both countries pledged to enhance their ties in several fields. Erdoğan underlined that he places great importance on both his visit to Ukraine and Putin’s visit to Turkey. “I will visit Ukraine at the beginning of next month,” he noted. Also addressing reporters on Friday, Erdoğan reiterated that Turkey can be the broker to establish peace between Ukraine and Russia. “Any development towards the occupation or the outbreak of a war constitutes a very serious violation for the peace of the region. As Turkey, we do not accept the emergence of unrest here,” he said. “We want peace to prevail in the region, and for this, we are ready to do whatever comes our way,” he said and added that may talk with Putin on phone or visit him in Moscow in addition to his planned Ukraine visit. Underlining that Russia invading Ukraine is not a realistic scenario, Erdoğan warned Tuesday that the region could not endure another war. Turkey is ready to play a role in de-escalating tensions between Russia and Ukraine, Presidential Spokesperson Ibrahim Kalın also said Tuesday, announcing Erdoğan will be traveling to Kyiv to hold talks with Zelenskyy in a couple of weeks. Russia will only welcome efforts if Turkish partners can encourage Ukraine to implement the Minsk Protocol, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday in their initial response. Meanwhile, both Russia and Ukraine are open to the idea of Turkey playing a role in easing tensions between the two countries, as proposed by Ankara in November, Turkish diplomatic sources said Thursday. Turkey is discussing the possibility of hosting the next meeting of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s (OSCE) Minsk Group, during which Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region will be discussed, the sources told reporters on condition of anonymity. No date has been set for an Istanbul meeting but representatives from Russia, Ukraine, the OSCE Minsk Group and Donbass are expected to attend, they said, adding the group would meet “frequently.” According to the Kremlin, however, Peskov told RIA news agency that there have been no preparations for such a meeting. “There is nothing on this meeting,” he was quoted as saying, adding that Ukraine has not abided by the Minsk accords on the settlement of the conflict with pro-Moscow rebels, while weapons are supplied to Ukraine. Western countries say they fear Russia is planning a new offensive against Ukraine after it massed tens of thousands of troops near the border in recent months. Moscow denies planning an attack. One source said that both Russia and Ukraine responded positively to Turkey’s offer to mediate. NATO member Turkey has friendly ties with both Kyiv and Moscow but opposes Russian policies in Syria and Libya, as well as its annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014. Ukraine has welcomed Turkey’s involvement in negotiations with Russia. Zelenskyy said in November he had asked Erdoğan to pass on a list of prisoners to Putin for a potential prisoner swap, though the swap never took place. Kyiv has also bought Turkish drones to possibly use against Russian-backed forces in eastern Ukraine, angering Moscow, and agreed with Ankara to manufacture the drones locally this year. Ankara said that it was ready to be a mediator in the crisis two months ago, an offer Moscow dismissed at the time. It has also said sanctions on Russia are not a solution, though the European Union threatened “massive” sanctions on Thursday if there is an attack. Speaking about Turkey’s proposals, Peskov told reporters on Wednesday, “If our Turkish partners can influence Kyiv and the implementation of the earlier reached agreements, this could only be welcomed.”

Turkey’s role as a NATO ally is on-balance desirable

Soicescu & Hanso, January 2022, Turkey’s Future Role in NATO: An Indispensable and Difficult Ally, https://icds.ee/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/ICDS_Policy_Paper_Turkey%C2%B4s_Future_Role_in_NATO_Stoicescu_Hanso_January_2022-1.pdf, Kalev Stoicescu Kalev Stoicescu is a Research Fellow at ICDS. A former Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Defence official, he joined the ICDS in August 2014. Among other fields, he specialises in issues related to Russian foreign and domestic policy, as well as developments in the field of NATO’s defence and security. Stoicescu served at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 1991–2000, including as Ambassador to the OSCE and Ambassador to US and Canada. He was a member of the Estonian delegation in border negotiations with Russia and Latvia. He worked for the Ministry of Defence from 2002–2014, first as civilian-military cooperation department head and then, from 2007, as counsellor on defence policy at the Estonian Embassy in Paris. Hille Hanso Hille Hanso is an independent researcher and analyst, based in Istanbul. Her articles, interviews, essays and commentaries have appeared in all media outlets in Estonia and abroad. Her expertise and research interests include Turkish culture and language, nationalism, security and defence in the regional context, Turkish domestic and foreign policy; Estonia-Turkey relations in the 1920s and 30s, minorities and forced migration in the Middle East. Her latest graduate degree is in International Relations and Middle Eastern Studies from Istanbul Bilgi University. TThe Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Estonia recognised Hille Hanso for her contribution to developing Estonian-Turkish relations in 2020

Executive Summary

Turkey is one of the key Allies in NATO. Turkey’s relations with and attitude towards the West will have a significant impact on the future of the Alliance and its capabilities and influence in the Black Sea region, the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East. Turkey’s regional power ambitions and interventionist policy, departure from democracy, unsettled disputes with NATO Allies and rapprochement with Russia and China create a very complex picture. The authors present the following recommendations from the perspective of reviving Turkey’s Western orientation, as much as possible, and strengthening NATO:

  • The West – meaning NATO Allies and the EU institutions and non-NATO member states – should adopt a double-track approach to Turkey by strengthening relations both personally, given Turkey’s present governance and President Erdoğan’s role/style, and institutionally, contemplating a longterm perspective.
  • The relations between the West and Turkey do not need more irritants (disputes and conflicts of interest), but rather a problem-solving agenda, a positive atmosphere, and constructive contacts and communication.
  • The above is easier said than done, but the main interests of, and critical issues that concern Western countries, NATO and the EU, and Turkey have been on the table for years, and should be solved one by one. None of these issues, from the refugees and Turkey’s membership in the EU, to the Patriot versus S-400 systems, are unsolvable, or can be shelved indefinitely. All sides have made mistakes, but through good will reasonable compromises can be achieved for the common benefit. Western-Turkish relations need a success story/ a good news story soon.
  • Western criticism of Turkey’s current democracy deficiencies is legitimate, but it should not block the path to improving mutual relations. Turkey is a NATO ally, not an adversary of the Alliance. There is no reason to treat Turkey like Russia and differently, for example, from Poland or Hungary.
  • Time cannot be turned back and the Turkish economic and democratisation “miracle” of the 2000s cannot be repeated in the same fashion under the current government, but the West has a duty and a vested interest in preventing Turkey from unbalancing its policies and strategic choices in favour of Russia (and China).
  • Turkey’s membership of the EU – that is full membership – depends on achieving consensus between member states. Turkey should be given clear answers regarding the accession negotiations that should be unfrozen in exchange for Ankara’s pledge and tangible steps made towards improving its democracy record.
  • The customs union agreement between the EU and Turkey could be complemented with clauses that allow Turkish exports of agricultural products to the EU, as a bonus for making steps that improve the state of democracy and freedoms before the elections in 2023.
  • The EU should negotiate with Turkey a reasonable/acceptable way for visa liberalisation for Turkish citizens.
  • A renewed peace process, aimed at resolving issues related to Kurdish organisations vis-à-vis fighting terrorism in Syria and elsewhere, could help pave the way to lasting security in Turkey and the region. The West could provide economic incentives to bring all counterparts, including relevant actors in the Kurdish political movements, to the negotiation table. Respect for human rights, territorial integrity and sovereignty of states, and of security arrangements are crucial ingredients of a peace process.

Russia will cooperate with Turkey on security issues if NATO does not

Soicescu & Hanso, January 2022, Turkey’s Future Role in NATO: An Indispensable and Difficult Ally, https://icds.ee/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/ICDS_Policy_Paper_Turkey%C2%B4s_Future_Role_in_NATO_Stoicescu_Hanso_January_2022-1.pdf, Kalev Stoicescu Kalev Stoicescu is a Research Fellow at ICDS. A former Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Defence official, he joined the ICDS in August 2014. Among other fields, he specialises in issues related to Russian foreign and domestic policy, as well as developments in the field of NATO’s defence and security. Stoicescu served at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 1991–2000, including as Ambassador to the OSCE and Ambassador to US and Canada. He was a member of the Estonian delegation in border negotiations with Russia and Latvia. He worked for the Ministry of Defence from 2002–2014, first as civilian-military cooperation department head and then, from 2007, as counsellor on defence policy at the Estonian Embassy in Paris. Hille Hanso Hille Hanso is an independent researcher and analyst, based in Istanbul. Her articles, interviews, essays and commentaries have appeared in all media outlets in Estonia and abroad. Her expertise and research interests include Turkish culture and language, nationalism, security and defence in the regional context, Turkish domestic and foreign policy; Estonia-Turkey relations in the 1920s and 30s, minorities and forced migration in the Middle East. Her latest graduate degree is in International Relations and Middle Eastern Studies from Istanbul Bilgi University. TThe Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Estonia recognised Hille Hanso for her contribution to developing Estonian-Turkish relations in 2020

The US has declined Turkey’s repeated request for a technology transfer for the purchase of Patriot air defence surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems. In December 2018, the US State Department ultimately cleared the purchase by Turkey of a package of Patriot systems (for about USD 3.5 billion), but the technology transfer issue remains unsettled.18 Russia would surely be seeking to profit from Turkey’s inability to purchase the newest generation multirole aircraft and mid-range air defence systems, as well as to acquire technology from and participate in joint armaments programs with other NATO Allies. Moscow stands ready to sell to Turkey whatever it needs (for example, a second batch of S-400 systems) and to develop bilateral 16 Melike Günaydın, “An overview of the Turkish Defence and Aerospace Industry 2020 Performance Report,” Defence Turk, 1 July 2021. 17 Arda Mevlutoğlu, “Turkey’s exclusion from the F-35 Project,” The Topchubashov Center, 28 April 2021. 18 Aaron Mehta, “Turkey cleared by US for $3.5 billion Patriot missile deal, despite S-400 row,” Defense News, 19 December 2018. cooperation in the defence and aerospace industry sector.

Turkey committed to NATO

Soicescu & Hanso, January 2022, Turkey’s Future Role in NATO: An Indispensable and Difficult Ally, https://icds.ee/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/ICDS_Policy_Paper_Turkey%C2%B4s_Future_Role_in_NATO_Stoicescu_Hanso_January_2022-1.pdf, Kalev Stoicescu Kalev Stoicescu is a Research Fellow at ICDS. A former Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Defence official, he joined the ICDS in August 2014. Among other fields, he specialises in issues related to Russian foreign and domestic policy, as well as developments in the field of NATO’s defence and security. Stoicescu served at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 1991–2000, including as Ambassador to the OSCE and Ambassador to US and Canada. He was a member of the Estonian delegation in border negotiations with Russia and Latvia. He worked for the Ministry of Defence from 2002–2014, first as civilian-military cooperation department head and then, from 2007, as counsellor on defence policy at the Estonian Embassy in Paris. Hille Hanso Hille Hanso is an independent researcher and analyst, based in Istanbul. Her articles, interviews, essays and commentaries have appeared in all media outlets in Estonia and abroad. Her expertise and research interests include Turkish culture and language, nationalism, security and defence in the regional context, Turkish domestic and foreign policy; Estonia-Turkey relations in the 1920s and 30s, minorities and forced migration in the Middle East. Her latest graduate degree is in International Relations and Middle Eastern Studies from Istanbul Bilgi University. TThe Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Estonia recognised Hille Hanso for her contribution to developing Estonian-Turkish relations in 2020

Turkey’s domestic and foreign policy debate has been unsettled since the coup in 2016. Nevertheless, its commitment to NATO, including the development of a new Strategic Concept of the Alliance, remains strong. Interviewees agreed on this point, referring to the communiqué of the Brussels summit, in June 2021, to which Turkey fully subscribed. On the other hand, Turkey’s so-called Eurasianists, as well as many Islamists, pose questions as to whether the country should stay in or leave NATO. These doubts are on the margins of Turkey’s political landscape, but they do affect the domestic public debate and the results of opinion polls.

Turkey supports NATO enlargement and the NATO’s role in Afghanistan

Soicescu & Hanso, January 2022, Turkey’s Future Role in NATO: An Indispensable and Difficult Ally, https://icds.ee/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/ICDS_Policy_Paper_Turkey%C2%B4s_Future_Role_in_NATO_Stoicescu_Hanso_January_2022-1.pdf, Kalev Stoicescu Kalev Stoicescu is a Research Fellow at ICDS. A former Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Defence official, he joined the ICDS in August 2014. Among other fields, he specialises in issues related to Russian foreign and domestic policy, as well as developments in the field of NATO’s defence and security. Stoicescu served at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 1991–2000, including as Ambassador to the OSCE and Ambassador to US and Canada. He was a member of the Estonian delegation in border negotiations with Russia and Latvia. He worked for the Ministry of Defence from 2002–2014, first as civilian-military cooperation department head and then, from 2007, as counsellor on defence policy at the Estonian Embassy in Paris. Hille Hanso Hille Hanso is an independent researcher and analyst, based in Istanbul. Her articles, interviews, essays and commentaries have appeared in all media outlets in Estonia and abroad. Her expertise and research interests include Turkish culture and language, nationalism, security and defence in the regional context, Turkish domestic and foreign policy; Estonia-Turkey relations in the 1920s and 30s, minorities and forced migration in the Middle East. Her latest graduate degree is in International Relations and Middle Eastern Studies from Istanbul Bilgi University. TThe Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Estonia recognised Hille Hanso for her contribution to developing Estonian-Turkish relations in 2020

Turkey’s views on NATO’s enlargement are officially in contradiction with Russia’s position. Ankara supports the bids for NATO membership for both Ukraine and Georgia. Turkey also wants NATO to help more in Libya and display stronger commitment, upholding the country’s legitimate/ internationally recognised government in Tripoli, although NATO probably will not make any decisions to that end in the near future. In Afghanistan, Turkey played a major role in NATO’s efforts. It was the only Ally present and one of the six countries invited (together with Russia, China, Iran, Pakistan and Qatar) to the inauguration of the Taliban-ruled government in Kabul, in a way representing both itself and the recently departed Alliance. Turkey was prepared to keep the Kabul Airport under control after the withdrawal of NATO troops, but there is no agreement with the new Taliban regime.

Turkey provides significant support to the European Response Force

Soicescu & Hanso, January 2022, Turkey’s Future Role in NATO: An Indispensable and Difficult Ally, https://icds.ee/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/ICDS_Policy_Paper_Turkey%C2%B4s_Future_Role_in_NATO_Stoicescu_Hanso_January_2022-1.pdf, Kalev Stoicescu Kalev Stoicescu is a Research Fellow at ICDS. A former Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Defence official, he joined the ICDS in August 2014. Among other fields, he specialises in issues related to Russian foreign and domestic policy, as well as developments in the field of NATO’s defence and security. Stoicescu served at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 1991–2000, including as Ambassador to the OSCE and Ambassador to US and Canada. He was a member of the Estonian delegation in border negotiations with Russia and Latvia. He worked for the Ministry of Defence from 2002–2014, first as civilian-military cooperation department head and then, from 2007, as counsellor on defence policy at the Estonian Embassy in Paris. Hille Hanso Hille Hanso is an independent researcher and analyst, based in Istanbul. Her articles, interviews, essays and commentaries have appeared in all media outlets in Estonia and abroad. Her expertise and research interests include Turkish culture and language, nationalism, security and defence in the regional context, Turkish domestic and foreign policy; Estonia-Turkey relations in the 1920s and 30s, minorities and forced migration in the Middle East. Her latest graduate degree is in International Relations and Middle Eastern Studies from Istanbul Bilgi University. TThe Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Estonia recognised Hille Hanso for her contribution to developing Estonian-Turkish relations in 2020

In 2021, Turkey took over from Germany the land component of the NATO Response Force (NRF), providing a Rapid Deployable Corps.21 In addition, France contributes the French AeroNaval Rapid Reaction Force (FRAMARFOR) to the NRF’s maritime component. The ACC Ramstein (Article 5 and Collective Defence) and Italy’s JFAC (crisis response) make up the air component, and Command and Control (C2) and Special Forces from Denmark, Belgium, and the Netherlands contribute to the special operations components. Turkey contributes also routinely to NATO’s maritime groups and operations in the Mediterranean (Standing NATO Maritime Group 1, Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 1 and Operation Sea Guardian).

Lack of democracy needs to be balanced with other needs

Soicescu & Hanso, January 2022, Turkey’s Future Role in NATO: An Indispensable and Difficult Ally, https://icds.ee/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/ICDS_Policy_Paper_Turkey%C2%B4s_Future_Role_in_NATO_Stoicescu_Hanso_January_2022-1.pdf, Kalev Stoicescu Kalev Stoicescu is a Research Fellow at ICDS. A former Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Defence official, he joined the ICDS in August 2014. Among other fields, he specialises in issues related to Russian foreign and domestic policy, as well as developments in the field of NATO’s defence and security. Stoicescu served at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 1991–2000, including as Ambassador to the OSCE and Ambassador to US and Canada. He was a member of the Estonian delegation in border negotiations with Russia and Latvia. He worked for the Ministry of Defence from 2002–2014, first as civilian-military cooperation department head and then, from 2007, as counsellor on defence policy at the Estonian Embassy in Paris. Hille Hanso Hille Hanso is an independent researcher and analyst, based in Istanbul. Her articles, interviews, essays and commentaries have appeared in all media outlets in Estonia and abroad. Her expertise and research interests include Turkish culture and language, nationalism, security and defence in the regional context, Turkish domestic and foreign policy; Estonia-Turkey relations in the 1920s and 30s, minorities and forced migration in the Middle East. Her latest graduate degree is in International Relations and Middle Eastern Studies from Istanbul Bilgi University. TThe Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Estonia recognised Hille Hanso for her contribution to developing Estonian-Turkish relations in 2020

The United States should certainly speak up and openly criticise Erdoğan’s deepening autocracy, but in the meantime, it should also face reality. For all his faults, Erdoğan nevertheless leads an important country. He is, for now, the only person that the US can attempt to do business with and work with to solve major problems between the two countries.28 Yet, the US should keep pushing for constructive relations in Turkey at the institutional level, such as ministries and parliament, to avoid accelerating the concentration of power to a very narrow group of people in Turkey. 26 Andrew Wilks, “Turkey’s Erdoğan lifts threat to expel Western ambassadors,” AP News, 25 October 2021. 27 Jeff Mason, “Biden to warn Turkey’s Erdoğan against ‘precipitous’ actions,” Reuters, 31 October 2021. 28 Michael E. O’Hanlon and Ömer Taşpınar, “Repairing the rift with Turkey,” Brooking Institution, 18 November 2020. Turkey can be a critical player in helping the US to handle Russia, Iran and many issues in the Middle East and the Mediterranean

US military assets in both Turkey and Greece means there can’t be a conflict between the two

Soicescu & Hanso, January 2022, Turkey’s Future Role in NATO: An Indispensable and Difficult Ally, https://icds.ee/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/ICDS_Policy_Paper_Turkey%C2%B4s_Future_Role_in_NATO_Stoicescu_Hanso_January_2022-1.pdf, Kalev Stoicescu Kalev Stoicescu is a Research Fellow at ICDS. A former Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Defence official, he joined the ICDS in August 2014. Among other fields, he specialises in issues related to Russian foreign and domestic policy, as well as developments in the field of NATO’s defence and security. Stoicescu served at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 1991–2000, including as Ambassador to the OSCE and Ambassador to US and Canada. He was a member of the Estonian delegation in border negotiations with Russia and Latvia. He worked for the Ministry of Defence from 2002–2014, first as civilian-military cooperation department head and then, from 2007, as counsellor on defence policy at the Estonian Embassy in Paris. Hille Hanso Hille Hanso is an independent researcher and analyst, based in Istanbul. Her articles, interviews, essays and commentaries have appeared in all media outlets in Estonia and abroad. Her expertise and research interests include Turkish culture and language, nationalism, security and defence in the regional context, Turkish domestic and foreign policy; Estonia-Turkey relations in the 1920s and 30s, minorities and forced migration in the Middle East. Her latest graduate degree is in International Relations and Middle Eastern Studies from Istanbul Bilgi University. TThe Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Estonia recognised Hille Hanso for her contribution to developing Estonian-Turkish relations in 2020

The US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken called Greece a “pillar of stability the region”, as Athens and Washington agreed to the US gaining greater access to Greek military bases in October 2021.36 The agreement is indefinite and allows US forces to train and operate more broadly in Greece. This means the US has significant military assets deployed in both Turkey and Greece that surely would play a key role in preventing conflict between the two Allies and historic rivals. This agreement may signal to Ankara that it is time to solve disputes with Greece for the sake of strengthening the Alliance, and that solutions could be found by negotiations and/or international mechanisms/ bodies (for example, the International Court of Justice, in the case of the maritime EEZ) rather than unilateral actions.

Turkey would ally with Russia if it wasn’t in NATO

Soicescu & Hanso, January 2022, Turkey’s Future Role in NATO: An Indispensable and Difficult Ally, https://icds.ee/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/ICDS_Policy_Paper_Turkey%C2%B4s_Future_Role_in_NATO_Stoicescu_Hanso_January_2022-1.pdf, Kalev Stoicescu Kalev Stoicescu is a Research Fellow at ICDS. A former Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Defence official, he joined the ICDS in August 2014. Among other fields, he specialises in issues related to Russian foreign and domestic policy, as well as developments in the field of NATO’s defence and security. Stoicescu served at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 1991–2000, including as Ambassador to the OSCE and Ambassador to US and Canada. He was a member of the Estonian delegation in border negotiations with Russia and Latvia. He worked for the Ministry of Defence from 2002–2014, first as civilian-military cooperation department head and then, from 2007, as counsellor on defence policy at the Estonian Embassy in Paris. Hille Hanso Hille Hanso is an independent researcher and analyst, based in Istanbul. Her articles, interviews, essays and commentaries have appeared in all media outlets in Estonia and abroad. Her expertise and research interests include Turkish culture and language, nationalism, security and defence in the regional context, Turkish domestic and foreign policy; Estonia-Turkey relations in the 1920s and 30s, minorities and forced migration in the Middle East. Her latest graduate degree is in International Relations and Middle Eastern Studies from Istanbul Bilgi University. TThe Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Estonia recognised Hille Hanso for her contribution to developing Estonian-Turkish relations in 2020

Standing by ready to fill every gap (by providing political support and economic advantages, but also by selling military equipment), Russia will use, in its own interest, every dispute between Turkey and the West. Moscow would enjoy Ankara’s continuous conflicts with and alienation from NATO Allies and the EU. The bottom line, particularly from NATO’s perspective, would be Turkey’s further rapprochement with Russia (and China) in the defence/military field. However, one should not disregard the fact that Turkey would be willing, for example, to be reinstated (most probably not unconditionally by the US) in the F-35 project and to purchase Patriot systems (and F-16 jets) from the US. The bridges have not yet been burned.

Turkey lifted its veto of the Baltic States defense plan

Soicescu & Hanso, January 2022, Turkey’s Future Role in NATO: An Indispensable and Difficult Ally, https://icds.ee/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/ICDS_Policy_Paper_Turkey%C2%B4s_Future_Role_in_NATO_Stoicescu_Hanso_January_2022-1.pdf, Kalev Stoicescu Kalev Stoicescu is a Research Fellow at ICDS. A former Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Defence official, he joined the ICDS in August 2014. Among other fields, he specialises in issues related to Russian foreign and domestic policy, as well as developments in the field of NATO’s defence and security. Stoicescu served at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 1991–2000, including as Ambassador to the OSCE and Ambassador to US and Canada. He was a member of the Estonian delegation in border negotiations with Russia and Latvia. He worked for the Ministry of Defence from 2002–2014, first as civilian-military cooperation department head and then, from 2007, as counsellor on defence policy at the Estonian Embassy in Paris. Hille Hanso Hille Hanso is an independent researcher and analyst, based in Istanbul. Her articles, interviews, essays and commentaries have appeared in all media outlets in Estonia and abroad. Her expertise and research interests include Turkish culture and language, nationalism, security and defence in the regional context, Turkish domestic and foreign policy; Estonia-Turkey relations in the 1920s and 30s, minorities and forced migration in the Middle East. Her latest graduate degree is in International Relations and Middle Eastern Studies from Istanbul Bilgi University. TThe Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Estonia recognised Hille Hanso for her contribution to developing Estonian-Turkish relations in 2020

A new defence plan for Poland and the Baltic states was approved by NATO, in June 2020, only after Turkey lifted its veto.37 An interviewee claimed that Turkey did not intend to take the four countries hostage, but instead sought to achieve consensus in the Alliance on labelling the Syrian Kurdish YPG a terrorist organisation. Diplomatic/political bargaining between Allies at NATO’s HQ rarely spills out to the public, even in the most contentious cases, but the defence plan issue did come out and rang bells particularly in the Baltics states and Poland. The issue soon disappeared from the media, but left behind some important lessons. Turkey’s behaviour is not excusable, but the Allies need to define/agree on common threats, as clearly as possible, and strengthen solidarity, to avoid hampering NATO’s core task of collective defence.

Turkey supporting Baltic state security

Soicescu & Hanso, January 2022, Turkey’s Future Role in NATO: An Indispensable and Difficult Ally, https://icds.ee/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/ICDS_Policy_Paper_Turkey%C2%B4s_Future_Role_in_NATO_Stoicescu_Hanso_January_2022-1.pdf, Kalev Stoicescu Kalev Stoicescu is a Research Fellow at ICDS. A former Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Defence official, he joined the ICDS in August 2014. Among other fields, he specialises in issues related to Russian foreign and domestic policy, as well as developments in the field of NATO’s defence and security. Stoicescu served at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 1991–2000, including as Ambassador to the OSCE and Ambassador to US and Canada. He was a member of the Estonian delegation in border negotiations with Russia and Latvia. He worked for the Ministry of Defence from 2002–2014, first as civilian-military cooperation department head and then, from 2007, as counsellor on defence policy at the Estonian Embassy in Paris. Hille Hanso Hille Hanso is an independent researcher and analyst, based in Istanbul. Her articles, interviews, essays and commentaries have appeared in all media outlets in Estonia and abroad. Her expertise and research interests include Turkish culture and language, nationalism, security and defence in the regional context, Turkish domestic and foreign policy; Estonia-Turkey relations in the 1920s and 30s, minorities and forced migration in the Middle East. Her latest graduate degree is in International Relations and Middle Eastern Studies from Istanbul Bilgi University. TThe Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Estonia recognised Hille Hanso for her contribution to developing Estonian-Turkish relations in 2020

The rise of Polish and Baltic interest in Turkey, and also in the opposite direction, became evident after Presidents Recep Tayyip Erdoğan 37 “Turkey drops objections to NATO defence plan for Poland and the Baltics,” NATO Watch, 3 July 2020. and Andrzej Duda signed an agreement for the purchase by Poland of Bayraktar TB2 drones at the presidential complex in Ankara, in May 2021.38 The agreement signed by the Turkish and Polish ministers of defence and worth USD 270 million, made Poland the first NATO member state to purchase a batch of 24 Bayraktar UAVs, with the first drones due to be delivered in 2022.39 For now, it is hard to say whether this is a new trend or an isolated arms deal. Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Qatar and Libya have purchased similar models of the Bayraktar TB2 drones with a range of 150 kilometres and readiness to be armed with anti-tank missiles. Latvia’s defence minister Artis Pabriks and Lithuania’s foreign minister Gabrielius Landsbergis visited Turkey in June and July 2021, respectively. Turkey is interested in selling variants of the Bayraktar TB2 to these Allies, as well. It is possible that Latvia and Lithuania, in addition to Poland and Ukraine, could purchase and start to operate the combat proven and capable Turkish drones, a development that would certainly enhance deterrence and defence in the region. In early July 2021, Turkey deployed four F-16s and an 80-strong detachment from its 6th Main Jet Base at Bandırma to the Malbork Air Base in Poland, to support the enhanced Baltic Air Policing (BAP) Mission40. This was the second contribution by Turkey to upholding NATO’s north-eastern flank, after a single rotation in the BAP from April to July 2006 (in Šiauliai, Lithuania). The deployment of Turkey’s F-16s to Poland demonstrated the power of political dialogue, and also of defence procurements between Allies. Interestingly, three Allies from the south – Spain, Italy and Turkey – contributed together to the BAP mission in Lithuania, Estonia and Poland, an excellent example of Allied solidarity. However, Turkey has not yet contributed troops to NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence. Last but not least, Poland and the Baltic states have expressed support for continuing accession negotiations between Turkey and the European Union.

The West should continue to work with Turkey

Soicescu & Hanso, January 2022, Turkey’s Future Role in NATO: An Indispensable and Difficult Ally, https://icds.ee/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/ICDS_Policy_Paper_Turkey%C2%B4s_Future_Role_in_NATO_Stoicescu_Hanso_January_2022-1.pdf, Kalev Stoicescu Kalev Stoicescu is a Research Fellow at ICDS. A former Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Defence official, he joined the ICDS in August 2014. Among other fields, he specialises in issues related to Russian foreign and domestic policy, as well as developments in the field of NATO’s defence and security. Stoicescu served at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 1991–2000, including as Ambassador to the OSCE and Ambassador to US and Canada. He was a member of the Estonian delegation in border negotiations with Russia and Latvia. He worked for the Ministry of Defence from 2002–2014, first as civilian-military cooperation department head and then, from 2007, as counsellor on defence policy at the Estonian Embassy in Paris. Hille Hanso Hille Hanso is an independent researcher and analyst, based in Istanbul. Her articles, interviews, essays and commentaries have appeared in all media outlets in Estonia and abroad. Her expertise and research interests include Turkish culture and language, nationalism, security and defence in the regional context, Turkish domestic and foreign policy; Estonia-Turkey relations in the 1920s and 30s, minorities and forced migration in the Middle East. Her latest graduate degree is in International Relations and Middle Eastern Studies from Istanbul Bilgi University. TThe Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Estonia recognised Hille Hanso for her contribution to developing Estonian-Turkish relations in 2020

The authors propose, on the basis of these conclusions, the following recommendations:

  • The West – meaning NATO Allies and the EU institutions and non-NATO member states– should adopt a double-track approach to Turkey by strengthening relations both personally, given Turkey’s present governance and President Erdoğan’s role/ style, and institutionally, contemplating a long-term perspective.
  • The relations between the West and Turkey do not need more irritants (disputes and conflicts of interest), but rather a problemsolving agenda, a positive atmosphere, and constructive contacts and communication.
  • The above is easier said than done, but the main interests of, and critical issues that concern Western countries, NATO and the EU, and Turkey have been on the table for years, and should be solved one by one. None of these issues, from the refugees and Turkey’s membership in the EU, to the Patriot versus S-400 systems, are unsolvable, or can be shelved indefinitely. All sides have made mistakes, but through good will they can achieve reasonable compromises for the common benefit. Western-Turkish relations need a success story/ a good news story soon.
  • Western criticism of Turkey’s current democracy deficiencies is legitimate, but this should not block the path to improving mutual relations. Turkey is a NATO ally, not an adversary of the Alliance. There is no reason to treat Turkey like Russia and differently, for example, from Poland or Hungary.
  • Time cannot be turned back, and the Turkish economic and democratisation “miracle” of the 2000s cannot be repeated in the same fashion under the current government, but the West has the duty and a vested interest in preventing Turkey from unbalancing its policy and strategic choices in favour of Russia (and China).
  • Turkey’s membership of the EU – that is full membership – depends on achieving consensus between member states. Turkey should be given clear answers regarding the accession negotiations that should be unfrozen in exchange for Ankara’s pledge and tangible steps made towards improving its democracy record.
  • The customs union agreement between the EU and Turkey could be complemented with clauses that allow Turkish exports of agricultural products to the EU, as a bonus for making steps that improve the state of democracy and freedoms before the elections in 2023.
  • The EU should negotiate with Turkey a reasonable/acceptable way for visa liberalisation for Turkish citizens.
  • A renewed peace process, aimed at resolving issues related to Kurdish organisations vis-à-vis fighting terrorism in Syria and elsewhere, could help pave the way to lasting security in Turkey and the region. The West could provide economic incentives to bring all counterparts, including relevant actors in the Kurdish political movements, to the negotiation table. Respect for human rights, territorial integrity and sovereignty of states, and of security arrangements are crucial ingredients of a peace process.
  • Turkey has the ambition to develop its defence industry, but it has also military capability gaps that it would not be likely to be able to fill by itself. Ideally, Turkey and also Greece should stop blocking cooperation and interaction between NATO and the EU for the benefit of all parties. Turkey could profit from participating in projects under Turkey’s Future Role in NATO 23 China-Russia “Alliance” the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), provided it meets conditions set by the EU for third countries.57
  • The US could clear the sale of Patriot systems to Turkey, as Ankara expressed its wish to purchase the equipment, to prevent Turkey from buying a second batch of S-400 systems from Russia. It is in the interest of all Allies that Turkey not continue to purchase Russian (and Chinese) military equipment. An acceptable and viable solution could be found regarding the S-400 systems already bought, but not yet activated by Turkey. The US could purchase them from Turkey.
  • Turkey’s primary goal is to get compensated by the US for the payments already made rather than seeking to return to the F-35 project.58 However, Turkey needs to replace (at least partially) its F-16 fleet in the foreseeable future. Turkey and other Allies, particularly the US, should find a solution as to how Turkey could acquire last generation multipurpose aircraft.

This is key to the integrity of the Alliance, including NATO’s integrated air defence.

  • Ankara’s claim for a larger Turkish maritime EEZ in the eastern Mediterranean cannot be solved unilaterally, or through the NATO-sponsored bilateral (Greek-Turkish) de-confliction mechanism established in October 2020.59 Turkey should address the issue to the International Court of Justice in The Hague.
  • Turkey and the Baltic states, as well as Poland, should multiply their contacts, including at the highest level, and continue to strengthen their defence cooperation. The Baltic states should employ additional incentives for Turkey to become more active in defence and deterrence in the northeastern flank, including contributions to NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence and the enhanced Baltic Air Policing mission.

Turkey is undermining, not strengthening, NATO’s Black Sea defense

Skyler Blake, January 17, 2021, Countering the growing Russian naval threat in the Black Sea region, https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/ukrainealert/countering-the-growing-russian-naval-threat-in-the-black-sea-region/

A week of high-stakes talks between Russian and Western officials have failed to reduce the geopolitical tension in Eastern Europe, where Moscow has concentrated over 100,000 troops on the border with Ukraine and is threatening unspecified “military-technical measures” if its ultimatums on ending Ukrainian-NATO cooperation are not met. While the Baltic Sea has received considerable attention from NATO strategic planners in recent years, the need for a cohesive NATO Black Sea Defense Strategy is now more evident than ever. As current unclassified intelligence suggests, Russian-occupied Crimea could be used as a military staging ground for the southern flank of a potential full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Growing Russian dominance in the Black Sea also raises the possibility of a naval blockade targeting merchant shipping or amphibious landings along Ukraine’s southern coastline in the region around Odesa. Unfortunately, the current NATO strategy to deter Russian aggression in the Black Sea region is dangerously underdeveloped. The region’s three NATO member states Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey have so far been unable to establish a comprehensive Black Sea security strategy together with NATO partners Ukraine and Georgia to counter the challenges posed by Russia. The kind of cooperation required for an effective NATO Black Sea Defense Strategy has so far proved elusive amid political differences between member states. While there is little prospect of progress in Ukraine and Georgia’s membership bids, these two NATO partner nations also have an important role to play in the alliance’s Black Sea strategy. Subscribe for more from UkraineAlert UkraineAlert is a comprehensive online publication that provides regular news and analysis on developments in Ukraine’s politics, economy, civil society, and culture. Email* An achievable first step towards a more coherent NATO position in the Black Sea would be greater Western assistance in rebuilding Ukrainian and Georgian maritime strength. The 1936 Montreux Convention makes maintaining a consistent NATO Black Sea presence difficult, as Turkey retains control over the straits and places considerable constraints on the number, transit time, and tonnage of naval vessels. This enhances the potential role of Black Sea partners Ukraine and Georgia. Ukraine lost the majority of its navy to the Russian occupation of Crimea in 2014, while much of Georgia’s navy was destroyed during the country’s 2008 conflict with Russia. Additional funding would enable Ukraine and Georgia to rebuild their naval capabilities according to NATO standards. This would result in more vessels permanently stationed in the Black Sea. This is already happening to a degree, but efforts need to be expedited with regards to the current crisis. The West, however, should be wary of supplying Ukraine and Georgia with corvette-class ships, as larger vessels are expensive to operate. They are also more vulnerable to Russia’s superior naval strength, while the shallow water ports of Odesa and Mykolaiv do not provide suitable infrastructure. With this in mind, the West should continue assisting Ukraine in the assembly of a fleet capable of carrying out its mosquito defense strategy. This should include small, inexpensive patrol boats, amphibious boats capable of landing infantry, and missile attack vessels capable of preventing Russian troop landings. EURASIA CONGRESSIONAL FELLOWSHIP The Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Congressional Fellowship Program aims to educate Congressional staff on current events in the Eurasia region and engage staff with the Council’s latest research. The program connects Congressional fellows with our larger community, which includes leading experts on Ukraine, Russia, Central Asia, and the South Caucasus. Applications are open! For questions about the program, please contact Shelby Magid. APPLY TODAY In the event of a major military escalation by Moscow, the NATO goal in the Black Sea would be to adopt an effective “sea denial” strategy. This strategy would entail a force that is capable of at least limiting Russian freedom of navigation in illegally occupied areas. To achieve this presence, NATO could further merge military exercises with its partners Ukraine and Georgia. At this point, Romania is by far the most enthusiastic supporter of a greater alliance presence in the region and, after signing a 10-year cooperation agreement with the US, can be considered a stable anchor for NATO in the Black Sea. The NATO maritime presence in the Black Sea has been steadily decreasing after the initial years of Russian aggression against Ukraine. In February 2017, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg pledged to increase the NATO presence in the region, but progress has been suboptimal. The Romanian, Ukrainian and Georgian navies could contribute to the establishment of a permanent Black Sea presence in line with the Montreux Convention, with significantly increased size, scale, and sophistication of their current exercises. It is imperative that a unified land, air, and sea defense strategy should not be excluded. NATO in this area could attempt to replicate the contemporary strategy for the Baltic Sea in the Black Sea. Ukraine holds a regular Black Sea exercise with NATO known as Sea Breeze, as well as the Rapid Trident land exercise and several others. Georgia hosts the Noble Partner army exercise, while the US and Romania jointly organize Saber Guardian. Ben Hodges of the Center for European Policy Analysis has suggested that these should not be isolated exercises, but instead should be linked together as a show of unified Black Sea regional defense. Western planners must remember that Russia respects strength above all else. The fact that there is currently no unified policy within NATO on Black Sea security is a major weakness. Internal differences within the alliance present Russia with opportunities at a highly inopportune moment in relations with the Kremlin. Many in NATO are currently looking for ways to re-engage with Russia by combining deterrence with dialogue. A clear and coherent strategy in the Black Sea would project the kind of strength that Moscow understands and respects.

Turkey’s sale of a drone to the Ukraine may trigger a Russian invasion of the Ukraine and won’t change the power balance

Isabelle Khurshudyan and David L. Stern, 1-16, 22, Washington Post, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/01/15/ukraine-russia-drones-turkey/, Why Ukraine’s Turkish-made drone became a flash point in tensions with Russia

KYIV — In the drone’s-eye video released by Ukraine’s military, a small, blue targeting square hovers over an image on the ground. After several seconds, a large plume of smoke bursts up from the spot. Two people are then seen running away from the site, where Ukraine claims it destroyed a D-30 howitzer used by Russian-backed separatists in the eastern Donbas region. But the strike on Oct. 26 — from a Bayraktar TB2 drone made by NATO-member Turkey — represented more than another clash in nearly eight years of fighting in eastern Ukraine. For Russia, it was another signal that Ukraine is boosting its arsenal to potentially change the military balance in the region — and why Moscow is demanding NATO end all defense cooperation with Ukraine and other former Soviet republics such as Georgia. The United States and its NATO allies say that Russia can never dictate its policies. Stark differences over Ukraine overshadow high-stakes Russia-NATO talks The impasse was clear during high-stakes diplomatic talks in Europe this week between the West and Russia, leaving Russian officials to suggest that future dialogue is pointless. Russia has threatened that it will take “military technical” measures if its requests are rejected Moscow has denied that its buildup of more than 100,000 troops and military hardware near the Ukrainian border is preparation for an attack on the country, though U.S. intelligence has warned that a multipronged invasion could come as soon as this month. Russia planning massive military offensive against Ukraine involving 175,000 troops, U.S. intelligence warns “Russia is seeing a trend where all of these NATO countries are delivering more and more weaponry to Ukraine,” said Rob Lee, a Russian military expert and fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. “It’s not necessarily that significant yet, but I think they see the trend line, and they don’t like where that trend line is going.” Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly claimed that NATO could position a long-range missile system in Ukraine before long, though there’s no indication that the military alliance has considered such a step. While the U.S.-provided weapons, such as the Javelin antitank missiles, have garnered the most headlines of Ukraine’s armory, Kyiv’s less-hyped backing from Turkey has raised alarms in Moscow. Not only did the purchase of the Bayraktar TB2 drones come without any apparent conditions on use, but Turkey and Ukraine have agreed to launch a production site of the drones in Ukraine. “I think that, of course, this creates completely different conditions for hostilities,” said Serhiy Zgurets, a Ukrainian military expert. “It is an element of emotional and real influence on the enemy. Liudmyla Kulik stands near her damaged hen house and a fallen tree on Dec. 14. The damage was caused by shelling in October in Hranitne, Ukraine. (Serhiy Morgunov for The Washington Post) Though Ukraine bought its first Bayraktar TB2 drones in 2019, it had held off on using them for strikes in the Donbas conflict until the front-line village of Hranitne came under heavy shelling on Oct. 26. The drones had been used for reconnaissance flights. The artillery strikes from the separatists in October leveled civilian homes and wounded two Ukrainian armed servicemen, one of whom died. In a statement, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said it first demanded a cease-fire through the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, but “the reaction from the Russian occupation forces was negative.” The single drone strike followed. “The Armed Forces of Ukraine will continue to increase tactics and methods of combat use of Bayraktars to deter Russian aggression and protect Ukraine’s interests,” the statement said. On Ukraine’s front, a real war overshadows worries about a possible future one with Russia In a December phone conversation between Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Putin brought up the Ukrainians’ use of Turkish-made drones, calling it a “destructive” behavior and “provocative activity,” according to the Kremlin readout. Turkish Foreign Minister Melvut Cavusoglu has said Ankara can’t be blamed for Ukraine’s deployment of the weapons. “This is already completely unpleasant news for the Russians, because this is a dramatic increase in combat capabilities,” said Oleksiy Arestovych, a Kyiv-based military blogger. “Ukraine is acquiring what is considered a ‘game changing app.’ ” The Bayraktar TB2 drones offer countries stealthy air power at a fraction of the cost of maintaining a traditional air force. They have featured prominently in conflicts in Libya and Syria, but it was perhaps Azerbaijan’s use of them in 2020 against Armenia that offered Ukraine an inspiring model. Across 44 days of fighting over the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh enclave, the drones targeted Armenian and Nagorno-Karabakh soldiers and destroyed tanks, artillery and air defense systems. They tilted the scales in the more-than-three-decade conflict for Azerbaijan, which took back some territory under a cease-fire deal with Armenia Destroyed cars and a crater in the road are the result of a reported drone strike the previous day, Oct. 1, 2020, in Martakert in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, located within the internationally recognized borders of Azerbaijan but widely controlled by ethnic Armenians. (Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images) While some NATO countries are cautious about weapons sales to Ukraine, Turkey is a “wild card,” said Lee, the Russian military expert. Germany, for example, has blocked Ukraine’s purchase of defensive weapons through the NATO Support and Procurement Agency, Ukrainian officials have said Russia and Germany have economic cooperation via the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline that runs through Danish waters to Germany, bypassing existing supply routes through Ukraine. Some Western countries are wary of supplying Ukraine with more weapons because that could be deemed a provocation for Russia, or even serve as a pretext for an attack. “They’re afraid,” Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, said of the Germans. “They constantly stick rods in our tires over this issue.” In their shared sea, Ukraine and Russia already risk direct conflict every day Sinan Ulgen, director of the Istanbul-based Center for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies, said Turkey’s support for Ukraine was a “delicate and difficult balancing act” because of Turkey’s relationship with Russia, which has “elements of cooperation but elements of competition and rivalry.” It has resulted in a complicated geopolitical relationship between Moscow and Ankara over the past few years. Turkish and Russian soldiers and mercenaries have faced off in armed conflict in Syria and Libya. At the same time, Turkey has purchased a sophisticated air defense system from Russia, a move that angered its NATO partners and resulted in sanctions from the United States. While Erdogan’s government has taken a hard line in refusing to recognize Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, it has not followed Europe and the United States in sanctioning Moscow. Turkey also sees in Ukraine an opportunity to expand the growing list of customers for its armed drones and take advantage of Ukraine’s defense production capabilities, including its ability to manufacture rocket engines, Ulgen said. At the mention of “Turkish drones,” Danilov responded: “They’re ours, which we bought. … Engines for these drones are being made in our country.” Ukraine’s foreign minister wants West to clarify its sanction threats to Moscow But while the drones were a “game-changer” in other battles between countries with less sophisticated military hardware, it’s unlikely they would make much of a difference against Russia, Lee said. Russia’s Defense Ministry has already posted images of training exercises for how to counter Bayraktar TB2 drones. “If Ukraine gets into a fight with Russia, Russia will destroy them,” Lee said. “Russia could shoot them down, or even before that, they can destroy the airfields where TB2s operate, or they can destroy the ground control station.” “The TB2s have never faced an integrated air-defense system like the one Russia has,” he added.

Turkey successfully challenged Russia in the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict

Chauvsky, 1-14, 22, Eugene Chausovsky is a nonresident fellow at the Newlines Institute. Chausovsky previously served as senior Eurasia analyst at the geopolitical analysis firm Stratfor for more than 10 years. His work focuses on political, economic, and security issues pertaining to Russia, Eurasia, and the Middle East, Foreign Policy, Russia Is Worried About Challenges in the Caucasus, https://foreignpolicy.com/2022/01/14/russia-csto-caucasus-nagorno-karabakh/

Stepping in was meant also to limit the influence of Turkey, whose security support for Azerbaijan via weaponry including TB2 drones proved pivotal in helping the country’s forces break through Armenian defenses. Thus, Russia intervened as a mediator to oversee a cease-fire and transfer of territory in and around Nagorno-Karabakh from Armenia to Azerbaijan, which was painful to accept for Yerevan but at the same time was much less than what Armenian forces would have otherwise likely lost on the battlefield. Armenia and Azerbaijan both agreed to the Moscow-brokered armistice, with its implementation consisting of the deployment of 2,000 Russian peacekeepers in November 2020. The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict highlighted Russia’s regional power status and Moscow’s continued ability to shape events, but it also revealed that Moscow’s influence has limitations. After all, Russia’s preferred outcome would have been the prewar status quo, but Azerbaijan, along with its own ally in Turkey, was able to forcefully challenge this status quo. This challenge substantially raised the profile of Ankara in the region, with Moscow agreeing to a joint Russian-Turkish monitoring center to oversee the cease-fire implementation and Russia having no choice but to acknowledge the important regional power role played by Turkey. The year since has also revealed key constraints to Russia’s influence in the region. Despite the presence of Russian peacekeepers in Nagorno-Karabakh, both Armenian and Azerbaijani forces have violated the cease-fire on a periodic and sometimes deadly basis. And Turkey has been able to leverage its increased influence for its own political and economic gains, most notably in its support for Azerbaijan’s regional transport and infrastructure initiatives and its diplomatic outreach to Armenia to resume trade and flights, and to revive the long-dormant process of political normalization. To be sure, Russia has played an important part in all of these discussions, but Moscow is no longer the only major actor in shaping the geopolitics of the Caucasus. While Russia’s military presence in the region mitigated the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, it has not been enough to prevent eruptions of violence or to bring about a sustainable peace. In the meantime, Turkey has proved its willingness and ability to directly challenge Russia in the region, even as the two countries cooperate in other spheres such as energy and weapons sales. The world is becoming more multipolar, which can serve as both a benefit and a challenge to entrenched powers—including Moscow. This brings us back to the unfolding events in Ukraine and Kazakhstan. In the Ukrainian case, Russia is still trying to push back against the political, economic, and security influence of the West, while seeking guarantees against the prospects of NATO enlargement it has fought to avoid. In Kazakhstan, Russia is less worried about the West, but it could see its position as the dominant external power giving way to others, including China and perhaps even Turkey. While Russia has established a pragmatic division of labor of sorts with China in Central Asia, Moscow cannot be sure this working arrangement will last forever. And Russia can be even less sure of Turkey’s intentions, considering that the two have been on opposing sides of conflicts in such areas as Syria and Libya, and that Turkish TB2 drones are now being sold to the likes of Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan. Thus, there is a broader connection between what is happening in the Caucasus and the events that are unfolding in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. The Kremlin finds its dominant power status in the former Soviet periphery being challenged from numerous directions, and Russia’s CSTO deployment in Kazakhstan and its military maneuvers along the Ukrainian border are intended to show that Moscow is both able and willing to use military force to maintain its position as the dominant regional power in the post-Soviet space. However, such military actions may only take Russia so far, and they have their own risk of blowback. For example, Russia has to consider that its CSTO deployment to Kazakhstan may set a dangerous precedent, as other member states like Armenia are no strangers to mass protests and unrest. For example, if violent demonstrations were to erupt in Armenia in the future, would Russia have to intervene again? And if so, could it be certain such an intervention will succeed? Such questions could become increasingly relevant as Armenia and Azerbaijan continue to stare each other down and Turkey and others look to expand their position in the region. The Caucasus may soon prove to be no less dynamic and consequential than Eastern Europe or Central Asia, both for Russia and the powers with which it contends.

Turkey will work to diffuse the Ukraine conflict but side with NATO if push comes to shove

Asli Aydintasbas, Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations, January 14, 2022, War in Ukraine: Erdogan’s greatest challenge yet, https://ecfr.eu/article/war-in-ukraine-erdogans-greatest-challenge-yet/

As the spectre of war in Ukraine looms over Europe, what individual NATO members do – or choose not to do – will have a geopolitical impact on how any conflict unfolds. When it comes to Ukraine, Turkey is no ordinary NATO member. It has recently been selling armed drones to Kyiv – some of which the Ukrainian military has already used in Donbas, to great effect, against pro-Russian targets. Turkey is also a close ally of Russia, and a key trading partner – and Ankara has been careful not to step on Moscow’s toes across different conflict zones. Under Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin, Turkey and Russia share much more than meets the eye. The two resurgent powers want to shake up the post-Soviet world order, they each have a disdain for liberal norms, and they both want a greater role on the world stage for their respective countries. Turkey and Russia have also developed a unique form of relationship, often dubbed “competitive cooperation,” whereby they back opposing sides in conflicts in Libya, Syria, and the South Caucasus but do so in a way that recognises each other’s expanding sphere of influence. This unique relationship between Erdogan and Putin can be hard for Western countries to fully comprehend. In 2014, Turkey criticised the Russian invasion of Crimea but did not join the US-led sanctions against Russia. In 2017, Turkey signed a deal to buy the Russian-made S-400 missile system and, against American objections, received it in 2019, despite the threat of US sanctions. No doubt Ankara will want to stay out of any military conflict with Russia over Ukraine. Despite its growing defence sales to Ukraine, its instinct will be to try to sit on the fence. In all likelihood, Ankara would join with its NATO partners in condemning a Russian invasion; but it would not go with them in imposing sanctions. Erdogan will aim to continue cooperation with Russia in Syria and in the economic sphere; but he would also step up engagement with NATO, with the aim of improving his global standing and reducing international criticism of him for his domestic conduct. This last point is becoming more important for the Turkish leader as a united opposition emerges against him and opinion polls show an anti-Erdogan majority. This is a tough course to follow, though. If an invasion happens and NATO starts supplying weapons to the Ukrainian forces, would Ankara continue to deliver armed drones to Kyiv? Would it facilitate NATO access to the Black Sea? Would it slow its burgeoning relations with Russia? It is too early to know the answers to these questions. But, given the significant leverage Russia has over Turkey in Syria, and over its tottering economy, Ankara would likely seek to do just enough to elevate its standing with NATO (and use this as an opportunity to improve ties with Washington) but less than what it would take to trigger a Russian reprisal. Here is why. In Syria, Ankara depends on Moscow’s consent to continue to control the safe zone Turkish troops established after mounting successive incursions into the country. Russia controls the air space and everything else around. And it is largely Russia’s presence that holds together the fragile ceasefire in northern Syria between the Syrian opposition, the Syrian regime, Turkey, and the Syrian Kurds. Turkey would pay a huge price in Syria if Russia turned against it over its stance on Ukraine Turkey would therefore pay a huge price in Syria if Russia turned against it over its stance on Ukraine. For example, in Idlib, several million Syrians live in a safe haven run by the Syrian opposition, with Turkish support. But this part of the country is vulnerable to a regime offensive, should Russia sign off on this. It would only take a few sorties by the Syrian or the Russian air force to create panic among the Sunni population in Idlib and force millions of Syrians towards the Turkish border – something that Ankara cannot afford to have, given the presence of already four million Syrian refugees in Turkey and growing anti-Syrian sentiments among the public. Russia also has great economic leverage over Turkey. In addition to the S-400s, Russia is building Turkey’s first nuclear reactor, it has recently constructed a pipeline underneath the Black Sea to Turkey, and it is supplying the bulk of Turkey’s natural gas. Despite Ankara’s desire for energy diversification, Turkish cities still need Russian natural gas to stay warm. This does not mean Ankara is a Russian vassal or happy about this dependence on Moscow. But it does mean Turks will tread gingerly when it comes to Ukraine. Meanwhile, Ankara also has a close relationship with Kyiv and has consistently supported the independence of Ukraine, Moldova, and other post-Soviet countries – in the much same way that the Ottomans sought to prevent Russian expansion for centuries, for example, aligning with Western powers against Russia in the Crimean war. Kemalist Turkey initially aligned itself with the Soviet Union but later sought to limit its influence by joining NATO in 1952. Erdogan met Volodymyr Zelensky several times in 2021, and Ukraine has also purchased at least a dozen Bayraktar TB2 drones from Turkey – which eventually irritated Moscow enough to prompt a telephone conversation between Erdogan and Putin. Ukrainian firms have what Turkey’s defence industry lacks – know-how about how to produce diesel engines for Turkey’s ambitious defence projects, including tanks and fighter jets. If an invasion happens, Turkey would be under pressure from NATO to keep supplying Ukraine with drones and other equipment. There might be demands for entry into and out of the Black Sea, controlled at the Bosporus by Turkey. And if Turkey wants an exemption from Western sanctions on Russia, it would be asked to do more to help an anti-Russian insurgency in Ukraine – which American officials have said they are prepared to support if diplomacy fails. But, while Ukraine may be a useful partner for Turkey, and a good vehicle to improve Ankara’s troubled relations with NATO, from a Turkish perspective the country is not a strategic prize worth going to war over. In the crucible of conflict, neither NATO nor Russia will appreciate Turkish ambiguity, and each will seek subtle ways to pressure Turkey to take a stand. Turkey has been here before – it attempted a similar approach in both the first and second world war, succeeding in the latter case but failing miserably and catastrophically in the first. Erdogan has in the past proven himself a master of such geopolitical balancing. But, with a weakened position at home and alienated partners abroad, a war in Ukraine would be his greatest challenge to date.

Turkey destroying human rights

Human Rights Watch, January 13, 2022, Turkey Defies International Human Rights Law, https://www.hrw.org/news/2022/01/13/turkey-defies-international-human-rights-law

The government of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has set back Turkey’s human rights record by decades and flagrantly defies international human rights law, Human Rights Watch said today in its World Report 2022. In 2021 Turkey was the first country to withdraw from the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, known as the Istanbul Convention. In December Turkey’s refusal to free the human rights defender Osman Kavala, prompted the Council of Europe to begin the process for sanctioning the government’s persistent defiance of a binding European Court of Human Rights judgment ordering his release. Turkey is the second country in the history of the Council of Europe to face such a sanctions process. “President Erdogan has over the past year followed a course to dispense with Turkey’s adherence to the framework of international human rights law,” said Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention is a setback for women’s rights and efforts to combat domestic violence; and opting to be sanctioned by the Council of Europe rather than release Osman Kavala from arbitrary and unlawful detention demonstrates contempt for the European Court of Human Rights.” In the 752-page World Report 2022, its 32nd edition, Human Rights Watch reviews human rights practices in nearly 100 countries. Executive Director Kenneth Roth challenges the conventional wisdom that autocracy is ascendent. In country after country, large numbers of people have recently taken to the streets, even at the risk of being arrested or shot, showing that the appeal of democracy remains strong. Meanwhile, autocrats are finding it more difficult to manipulate elections in their favor. Still, he says, democratic leaders must do a better job of meeting national and global challenges and of making sure that democracy delivers on its promised dividends. Turkey has a restrictive environment for the media, for human rights defenders, for the LGBT community, for Kurdish political activists, and for other perceived government critics. Former leading politicians from the parliamentary opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) have been detained for five years and a closure case against the whole party is before the Constitutional Court. Political control over courts is at the core of the deep erosion of rule of law in Turkey. Impunity remains entrenched for police abuses and for cases of enforced disappearances. Turkey remains host to the highest number of refugees in the world, with an estimated 3.7 million Syrian refugees in the country, in addition to asylum seekers from other countries. Turkey continued building a wall in 2021 along its eastern border with Iran, and summarily pushed back Afghans and others apprehended attempting to cross the border.

Turkey’s provision of drones to the Ukraine risks war and won’t deter war

Stein, January 2022, Dr. Aaron Stein is the Director of Research at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. He is the coeditor of The Russian Way of War in Syria: Implications for the West, an edited volume examining Russian operations in the civil war. He is also the author of the forthcoming book, The U.S. War Against ISIS: How America and its Allies Defeated the Caliphate (I.B. Tauris, 2022). Previously, Dr. Stein was a resident senior fellow of the Atlantic Council. He also hosts the Arms Control Wonk and the Chain Reaction podcasts. Dr. Stein was previously a doctoral fellow at the Geneva Center for Security Policy (Switzerland), an Associate Fellow of the Royal United Services Institute (London), and Nonproliferation Program Manager at the Center for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies (Istanbul), Turkey’s Response to the Russia-Ukraine Crisis, https://www.fpri.org/article/2022/01/turkeys-response-to-the-russia-ukraine-crisis/

On October 26, 2021, Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense released video of a TB2 unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) striking a separatist D-30 howitzer in Russian-occupied Donbas. The strike was Ukraine’s first confirmed use of the now ubiquitous TB2, the Bayraktar-manufactured drone that the Turkish military has used to great tactical effect in Syria, Libya, and Nagorno-Karabakh. The Turkish-Ukrainian defense relationship is understudied, but it could become an important factor in how Russian elites view North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) support for non-member Ukraine, and be used to justify an invasion to assuage Moscow’s concerns about a US-allied military presence along its borders. The Turkish support for Ukraine is not the main driver of Russian discomfort about the future of Ukraine. The TB2 is also not a decisive game changer, and the use of UCAVs is almost certain to have little impact on how Russian leadership weighs risk during debates about the efficacy of armed conflict in a neighboring state. Nevertheless, Turkish-Ukrainian defense ties are worthy of deeper study, precisely because Ankara’s relationships with Kyiv and Moscow have a secondary impact on American interests in Eastern Europe.

CONTINUES

These two actions are in contradiction with one another, but also demonstrate how Turkish leaders are comfortable compartmentalizing the country’s international relationship to pursue policies that elites have decided are in its best interests. The Turkish-Ukrainian relationship is almost certain to continue. The two sides have a mutually beneficial defense industry relationship. Ankara will have to balance any such cooperation with Kyiv with its very real interests in managing ties with Moscow. Russia and Turkey can, in theory, manage their disagreements about Ukraine, precisely because each side has an interest in retaining functioning relations. Turkey’s NATO membership, however, creates secondary issues for the United States. Moscow can point to NATO support for Ukraine — to include Turkish support for Kyiv — as a reason for future military action.

Turkey strengthening its relationship with Russia and becoming undemocratic

Stein, January 2022, Dr. Aaron Stein is the Director of Research at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. He is the coeditor of The Russian Way of War in Syria: Implications for the West, an edited volume examining Russian operations in the civil war. He is also the author of the forthcoming book, The U.S. War Against ISIS: How America and its Allies Defeated the Caliphate (I.B. Tauris, 2022). Previously, Dr. Stein was a resident senior fellow of the Atlantic Council. He also hosts the Arms Control Wonk and the Chain Reaction podcasts. Dr. Stein was previously a doctoral fellow at the Geneva Center for Security Policy (Switzerland), an Associate Fellow of the Royal United Services Institute (London), and Nonproliferation Program Manager at the Center for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies (Istanbul), Turkey’s Response to the Russia-Ukraine Crisis, https://www.fpri.org/article/2022/01/turkeys-response-to-the-russia-ukraine-crisis/

On October 26, 2021, Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense released video of a TB2 unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) striking a separatist D-30 howitzer in Russian-occupied Donbas. The strike was Ukraine’s first confirmed use of the now ubiquitous TB2, the Bayraktar-manufactured drone that the Turkish military has used to great tactical effect in Syria, Libya, and Nagorno-Karabakh. The Turkish-Ukrainian defense relationship is understudied, but it could become an important factor in how Russian elites view North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) support for non-member Ukraine, and be used to justify an invasion to assuage Moscow’s concerns about a US-allied military presence along its borders. The Turkish support for Ukraine is not the main driver of Russian discomfort about the future of Ukraine. The TB2 is also not a decisive game changer, and the use of UCAVs is almost certain to have little impact on how Russian leadership weighs risk during debates about the efficacy of armed conflict in a neighboring state. Nevertheless, Turkish-Ukrainian defense ties are worthy of deeper study, precisely because Ankara’s relationships with Kyiv and Moscow have a secondary impact on American interests in Eastern Europe. The Turkish-Russian relationship is marred by bureaucratic distrust, which is papered over by a very functional leader-to-leader dynamic that enables the two Black Sea neighbors to cooperate and manage numerous regional conflicts. The Turkish-Ukrainian dynamic, in turn, is part of a broader Turkish effort to establish itself as an independent actor, committed to pursuing a foreign policy that often clashes with much of the NATO alliance. This paper will explore Turkish-Russian and Turkish-Ukrainian relations; the reasons for Turkey’s efforts to “fence sit” and establish itself as a neutral political actor in the Black Sea; and what these efforts portend for US interests in the region. Ankara’s relationship with Moscow is multi-faceted and often misunderstood. Turkey was a bulwark against the Soviet Union during the Cold War, but Turkish national elites have always been aware of the country’s close proximity to its larger neighbor, and have sought to manage ties with the leadership in Moscow. In the decades following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Turkish elites have debated Ankara’s role in the world, the country’s alliance with the United States, and how best to maximize Turkish interests in the former Soviet space. In general, there is a consensus in Turkey that Ankara has considerable economic and political interests in deepening its relationships with all of its neighbors, including Russia. Turkey’s current ruling party, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) adopted this basic philosophy, but fused elements of it with Islamist tropes about colonialism and identity in the Middle East. As the AKP has radicalized, it has sought common cause with elements of the far right in Turkish politics, the MHP, and the group’s argument that Ankara’s alliance with the West is detrimental to the country’s future and that Turkey should explore deepening ties with Russia and the ethnic Turkic states along its periphery. Turkish domestic politics changed considerably after a failed coup attempt in July 2016. The attempted putsch further isolated current President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and justified his complete overhaul of government. The result has been the erosion of Turkey’s liberal institutions and the emergence of an authoritarian state, dependent on the fiat of the country’s president. At the same time, Ankara’s relationship with the United States and the European Union has cratered, following severe disagreements about strategy and tactics to defeat Islamic State in Syria and over Ankara’s own democratic failings back home. The Turkish-Russian relationship has flourished during the same period; especially since Russian President Vladimir Putin was the first world leader to call Erdoğan after putschists tried to kill him. The leader-to-leader relationship has since flourished, giving way to joint efforts to manage conflict in Syria and Nagorno-Karabakh, and the Turkish decision to purchase the Russian-made S-400 air and missile defense system.

Turkish invasion of Syrian has undermined US efforts against ISIS

Stein, January 2022, Dr. Aaron Stein is the Director of Research at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. He is the coeditor of The Russian Way of War in Syria: Implications for the West, an edited volume examining Russian operations in the civil war. He is also the author of the forthcoming book, The U.S. War Against ISIS: How America and its Allies Defeated the Caliphate (I.B. Tauris, 2022). Previously, Dr. Stein was a resident senior fellow of the Atlantic Council. He also hosts the Arms Control Wonk and the Chain Reaction podcasts. Dr. Stein was previously a doctoral fellow at the Geneva Center for Security Policy (Switzerland), an Associate Fellow of the Royal United Services Institute (London), and Nonproliferation Program Manager at the Center for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies (Istanbul), Turkey’s Response to the Russia-Ukraine Crisis, https://www.fpri.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/turkeys-response-to-the-russia-ukraine-crisis.pdf

In the weeks following the failed coup, Ankara moved ahead with an invasion of northern Syria. The United States had formed a close partnership with the Syrian Kurds to fight the Islamic State. The main Kurdish militia, the Peoples’ Protection Units, is an affiliate of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The PKK has been fighting inside Turkey since 1984. The group is listed in Turkey, the United States, and the European Union. Turkish officials accuse the United States of supporting terrorism and have justified three separate invasions of Syria on the basis of fighting terrorism. These interventions, however, have hindered the US-led war against ISIS, raising tensions between Ankara and much of the Western alliance.

Russia could easily defeat drones provided by Turkey

Stein, January 2022, Dr. Aaron Stein is the Director of Research at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. He is the coeditor of The Russian Way of War in Syria: Implications for the West, an edited volume examining Russian operations in the civil war. He is also the author of the forthcoming book, The U.S. War Against ISIS: How America and its Allies Defeated the Caliphate (I.B. Tauris, 2022). Previously, Dr. Stein was a resident senior fellow of the Atlantic Council. He also hosts the Arms Control Wonk and the Chain Reaction podcasts. Dr. Stein was previously a doctoral fellow at the Geneva Center for Security Policy (Switzerland), an Associate Fellow of the Royal United Services Institute (London), and Nonproliferation Program Manager at the Center for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies (Istanbul), Turkey’s Response to the Russia-Ukraine Crisis, https://www.fpri.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/turkeys-response-to-the-russia-ukraine-crisis.pdf

Ankara, however, is acutely aware of its need to have functional relations with the United States. The Russian build-up in Ukraine has, therefore, given Turkish policymakers a tool to try and tout its anti-Russian bonafides. The centerpiece of this argument is Ankara’s relationship with Kyiv. The United States has some interest in supporting Turkey’s defense industrial relationship with Kyiv, but should understand the limits of the TB2. The small Turkish drone has considerable value in Kyiv’s clashes against Russian backed separatists. However, in a true shooting war with Russian forces, the drone could be destroyed on the ground or picked off by orbiting fighters or Russian air defenses. The small number of drones does not alter the balance of power. The TB2, in this sense, is functionally irrelevant in a high-intensity conflict.

Russia can offset the TB12 drone and its provision could be used to justify an invasion

Stein, January 2022, Dr. Aaron Stein is the Director of Research at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. He is the coeditor of The Russian Way of War in Syria: Implications for the West, an edited volume examining Russian operations in the civil war. He is also the author of the forthcoming book, The U.S. War Against ISIS: How America and its Allies Defeated the Caliphate (I.B. Tauris, 2022). Previously, Dr. Stein was a resident senior fellow of the Atlantic Council. He also hosts the Arms Control Wonk and the Chain Reaction podcasts. Dr. Stein was previously a doctoral fellow at the Geneva Center for Security Policy (Switzerland), an Associate Fellow of the Royal United Services Institute (London), and Nonproliferation Program Manager at the Center for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies (Istanbul), Turkey’s Response to the Russia-Ukraine Crisis, https://www.fpri.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/turkeys-response-to-the-russia-ukraine-crisis.pdf

For the Ukraine situation, more specifically, Ankara can pursue a variation of this “fencesitting” policy. Ankara can continue to export defense items to Kyiv, while simultaneously engaging Moscow, and resisting any US calls to independently support any coercive actions against Russia. Instead, Turkey is more likely to operate within the alliance, but resist calls to join US or EU calls to impose sanctions in response to an invasion. These sanctions would undermine Turkish economic policy, which depends on cooperation with Russia on issues ranging from energy to agriculture to tourism. It is not in Ankara’s interests to isolate Russia. For these reasons, Akinci drone on display at Teknofest 2019 (Wikimeda Commons/ Talha Işık) 20 FOREIGN POLICY RESEARCH INSTITUTE the US has to contend with a Turkish arms policy that risks irking Russia, but which provides both Kyiv and Washington with few tangible benefits. The TB2 and the Akinci (if it is ever exported) do not alter the balance of power. Instead, any tangible gain Kyiv attains over the Donbas insurgents is mitigated by an increased Russian commitment to the enclaves it has seized. Moscow, in short, has escalation dominance. The US, in turn, is called upon to guarantee the security of the eastern NATO states and to deploy forces to reassure allies. Turkey is an important NATO member, but it does not guarantee the security of the alliance. This reality means that the US has an interest in how allied actions impact broader alliance security. In this case, the current level of TurkishUkrainian cooperation has greater positive outcomes for Ankara. The Ukrainian supply of engines has enabled the development of a larger turbo-prop powered drone and may power the next generation of Turkish air power. This relationship has helped to insulate Turkey from a downturn in relations with the United States. The future of the relationship could also further Ankara’s interest in developing its own, autarkic defense industry. The Turkish support for Kyiv does enhance the armed forces’ capabilities against the separatists. It does not have a tangible impact on the balance of power with Russia. Instead, the potential negative outcome from continued and deeper cooperation — to include the provision of long-range strike systems — could actually make the situation worse and give Moscow a narrative to justify military action. The United States will be embroiled in the outcome of this tripartite balancing act. Washington guarantees Turkish and NATO security, protecting Ankara from escalation with Moscow. The Russian armed forces are certain to retain military overmatch against its smaller neighbors. Absent a credible US guarantee, Ukraine may forever be susceptible to Russian military coercion. The Turkish role, in this scenario, is beneficial for certain contingencies, but also not determinative in shifting the asymmetry of power.

Turkey working to resolve the Ukraine crisis and secure the Black Sea

Arzu Addison, January 12, 2012, TURKEY ASKS AMERICA AND RUSSIA TO REST https://www.campuslately.com/turkey-asks-america-and-russia-to-rest/

Turkey’s defense minister said further escalation of tensions should be avoided, as he believed that any sudden and bad move could easily lead to a chain reaction. It is especially important for Turkey not to get out of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which are close to it, since inflation in the country will almost certainly rise sharply, and the tourism sector, which is vital for Ankara, may be hit hard. . Turkey, which has the second largest force in NATO, proposes to implement the 1936 Montreux Convention to ensure stability in the Black Sea region. This means that the fleet of the countries bordering the Black Sea will not be allowed to stay in the region for more than 21 days, but it will also limit the number of foreign warships allowed to enter the Black Sea through the Turkish Strait and generally prohibit the stationing of foreign warships. Aircraft carriers. Turkey has so far refrained from confronting Russia over the Ukraine crisis, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s foreign policy maneuvering playing a major role. Indeed, Erdogan seeks to maintain Turkish influence in regions such as the Caucasus, Libya or Syria, where Russia is also present militarily.

Turkey working to resolve the Ukraine crisis and secure the Black Sea

Arzu Addison, January 12, 2012, TURKEY ASKS AMERICA AND RUSSIA TO REST https://www.campuslately.com/turkey-asks-america-and-russia-to-rest/

Turkey’s defense minister said further escalation of tensions should be avoided, as he believed that any sudden and bad move could easily lead to a chain reaction. It is especially important for Turkey not to get out of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which are close to it, since inflation in the country will almost certainly rise sharply, and the tourism sector, which is vital for Ankara, may be hit hard. . Turkey, which has the second largest force in NATO, proposes to implement the 1936 Montreux Convention to ensure stability in the Black Sea region. This means that the fleet of the countries bordering the Black Sea will not be allowed to stay in the region for more than 21 days, but it will also limit the number of foreign warships allowed to enter the Black Sea through the Turkish Strait and generally prohibit the stationing of foreign warships. Aircraft carriers. Turkey has so far refrained from confronting Russia over the Ukraine crisis, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s foreign policy maneuvering playing a major role. Indeed, Erdogan seeks to maintain Turkish influence in regions such as the Caucasus, Libya or Syria, where Russia is also present militarily.

Even if Erdogan is more authoritarian, this is transitional and Turkey is a democracy

Özgür Ünlühisarcıklı Director, Ankara Office, Gkreen Marchall Fund, January 12, 2022, https://www.gmfus.org/news/it-not-too-early-think-about-political-change-turkey, It Is Not Too Early to Think About Political Change in Turkey

After almost 20 years of uninterrupted rule by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, first as prime minister and then as president, Turkey may be on the verge of political change. While this is a possibility rather than a foregone conclusion, its allies and partners should be prepared for such an outcome. Not too long ago, it was widely believed that Erdoğan could not be defeated in an election due to several factors, including the devotion of his supporters, his political savvy, and the lack of a viable opposition. After the failed coup attempt in July 2016 and the repressive state of emergency that followed, a new narrative emerged: Turkey was now an authoritarian state where election outcomes would be predetermined. Others argued that, while they are unfair, elections are real and competitive, with the opposition having a genuine chance of winning. The latter argument was proven correct in the March 2019 local elections. The opposition won in most of the metropolitan cities, including Ankara and İstanbul. The rerun of the elections in İstanbul, based on flimsy arguments, cast a shadow over Turkey’s electoral democracy, but ultimately the city’s voters made their will indisputably clear and the opposition won by an even bigger margin in the rerun. The next presidential and parliamentary elections are scheduled for June 2023, but early ones cannot be ruled out. Erdoğan has been sliding significantly in opinion polls since the local elections, indicating that his reelection cannot be taken for granted. Several factors have contributed to this situation. First, the change from a parliamentary to a presidential system of government has not worked well for Erdoğan. In the new system, his Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been sidelined by presidential bureaucrats and advisors who do not necessarily have connections to the party grassroots. As a result of this and of losing major municipalities in 2019, the clientelist network that the AKP and Erdoğan used to enjoy has been largely disrupted. The presidential system came with two other changes that had negative outcomes for Erdoğan. The 50 percent plus one threshold to be elected president and the legalization of formal electoral alliances led him to ally the AKP with the far-right Nationalist Action Party (MHP). His dependence on the MHP has not only limited his policy choices but also alienated some AKP voters such as conservative Kurds. While the audience for the opposition’s message is growing by the day, that of Erdoğan is gradually but steadily shrinking. Second, the social democratic Republican People’s Party (CHP) was able to form an alliance with a diverse set of parties—including one moderate nationalist, one hardcore Islamist, and one center-right party—gaining the ability to address a wider audience. The CHP then changed its political discourse. In the past, it engaged in a rigid secular, antireligious, and nationalist rhetoric, and it “othered” religious conservatives and Kurds. It supported repressive measures such as the infamous headscarf ban of the 1990s. This approach had confined CHP to a marginal ideological corner. Under its current president, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the party has gradually pivoted away from this approach, hesitantly at first and more decisively recently. He went so far as to publicly apologize to those his party has wronged in the past. While the audience for the opposition’s message is growing by the day, that of Erdoğan is gradually but steadily shrinking. The opposition bloc had another problem: cohesion and coherence. Initially, its common denominator was little more than anti-Erdoğanism. However, it has recently begun building a proactive and positive shared agenda, such as restoring the parliamentary system and advancing democratic freedoms. Third, Turkey is experiencing its worst currency crisis since the 2001 economic crisis that propelled the AKP to power. Due to the increasing political risks, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, and most notably unorthodox monetary policies such as keeping the interest rate below inflation, which Erdoğan insists on, the Turkish lira has devalued by more than 50 percent in a year. The devaluation was partially curbed only through the guarantee by the Treasury to indemnify holders of lira deposits if devaluation exceeds the interest rate. As a result of the devaluation, inflation has jumped to 36 percent as of the start of the year. Unless there is an unexpected development, Erdoğan, the opposition candidate, and likely the candidate of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, (HDP) will face off in the presidential election. The HDP was never invited to join the opposition bloc because it was thought that this would not go down well with the voters of the other opposition parties. The HDP has not taken issue with this and in the case of a second round, which is more likely than not, its voters are expected to support the opposition bloc candidate. Under these conditions, one can envision three scenarios for the country. More of the Same Erdoğan could be reelected despite the disadvantages he is now experiencing. Any combination of unexpected improvements in the economy, a crisis that looks like a national emergency, making the vote counting less transparent, and finding other ways to make the election even less fair—or mistakes by the opposition, such as picking the wrong candidate—could result in another victory for Erdoğan. This scenario would likely see more of the same trajectory in Turkey, but accelerated. Some observers take this scenario further—to the election not taking place in an orderly fashion or to Erdoğan not conceding if he loses. Given that that the AKP candidate, under instructions from Erdoğan, did not concede after losing the local elections in İstanbul and that the stakes would be much higher in the presidential election, this perspective must not be dismissed. However, Turkey has a long tradition of democratic elections and a vibrant opposition, and the system monitoring the ballots and protecting votes has proved resilient so far. Moreover, Turkey is an open market economy that needs foreign capital inflows to sustain its growth, and for this reason it cannot afford a Belarus scenario for long. Change of Season This is a scenario in which the opposition wins the presidential election. This could lead to a bare minimum of democratization steps or political paralysis. The former will represent a slow transition, the latter a transition crisis that can scuttle the transition. Because a new president would be elected with the support of a very diverse group of political parties and would need their support in the parliament, he or she would have an incentive to adopt an inclusive, consensual, and pluralistic governing style. This would pave the way to the reversal of some of the recent democratic backsliding. The rule of law, media freedom, and human rights would improve and the space for civil society would grow. However, ideological differences among the parties supporting the new president could prevent them from making constitutional changes to advance and consolidate democratic reforms. Even if the parliamentary system is restored, Turkey’s democracy would look a lot like the one before the failed coup attempt in 2016—a nominal democracy in need of comprehensive modernization. This would be a shaky and reversable democratization. It would still be spring, but winter would likely follow.

Kazakhstan proves turkey fails at regional peacekeeping

News.am, January 12, 2022, Turkey’s Turkic world ambitions face reality check in Kazakhstan, https://news.am/eng/news/681665.html

Turkey’s aspirations to lead the greater Turkic world and become a Eurasian heavyweight has met a “reality check,” analysts said, as violence erupted in the ex-Soviet, Turkic nation of Kazakhstan last week. Here’s the full text of the article: When the oil, gas and uranium-rich country needed security assistance to maintain order, it was the Russia-dominated Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) that it turned to. Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed victory Monday, after swiftly deploying CSTO forces to guard critical Kazakh infrastructure, allowing Kazakh forces to concentrate on tackling protesters. “I am confident that our joint efforts will make it possible to fully reestablish control over the situation nationwide and to stabilize it,” Putin told fellow CSTO members in an emergency session. “We must make sure that events similar to the tragedy happening in the brotherly country of Kazakhstan will not catch us by surprise again and that we are fully mobilized and ready to push back against any new provocation,” he said, hinting to leaders of other ex-Soviet states that the alliance would protect them too. Geopolitical analyst Michael Tanchum noted that the intervention by Russia and the CSTO in Kazakhstan was “an important cautionary signal” for Turkey and the freshly revamped Organization of Turkic States, “that their ambitions should not outrun their capacity.” In the wake of the Turkish-assisted victory by Azerbaijan in its war with Armenia in 2020, “a certain ‘Turan’ (greater Turkic world) euphoria took hold on social media,” Tanchum, a senior fellow at the Austrian Institute for European and Security Policy and a non-resident fellow at the Middle East Institute in Washington, said. This gained further momentum last November, when Turkey became the rotating president of the Organization of Turkic States and changed the group’s name from the Cooperation Council of Turkic Speaking States (Turkic Council). The leaders opened a new headquarters in Istanbul and adopted a strategy document titled “Turkic World Vision 2040.” Ambitious maps of a “Turkic World” emerged on social media after the gathering, with some engulfing western China’s Xinjiang Autonomous Region and parts of eastern Russia. “Russia confronts a new geopolitical reality of Turkey as a rising Eurasian agenda-setter with its own capacity to reorient connectivity across the Caspian basin and Central Asia,” Tanchum said. “This potential was greatly enhanced by the November 2020 ceasefire agreement that created a corridor through Armenia connecting Azerbaijan to its exclave of Nakhchivan, providing Ankara direct connectivity with Azerbaijan and all of Turkic Central Asia.” “Russia looks on all of these developments with concern. China does as well,” Tanchum said. Rich Outzen, a former U.S. military officer and State Department policy-planning official, said, “This has been a great reality check” for Turkey’s ambitions via the Organization of Turkic States. “Just because a great power like the United States is less interested in the region, with the Afghanistan pullout, it doesn’t mean that other great powers like Russia or China are also less interested and there is a free hand to shape anything the way other countries of the region want to.” “Russians have near-imperial interests in the area and absolutely want to shape it according to their wishes. Chinese as well,” Outzen said. He said the Organization of Turkic States was about “three years late” in terms of Kazakhstan, and Turkey’s success in assisting fellow Turkic state Azerbaijan in its 2020 war could not be used as a comparison to measure Ankara’s growing influence in the region. Relations with other Turkic countries like Kazakhstan are developing at a comparatively slower pace, Outzen noted. Although not an international security body like the CSTO, the Organization of Turkic States promotes the integration of Turkic-speaking countries in a wide range of areas from culture to connectivity. Members span from Turkey to Central Asia and include Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. Turkmenistan, which embraces a “permanent neutrality” policy, is the newest observer member and joins Hungary on the sidelines of the body. Ukraine has expressed interest in joining as an observer. On Jan. 6, as violence spread in Kazakhstan, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan held separate calls with leaders of the Central Asian Turkic states, including Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. Erdogan told Tokayev that Turkey was closely following the developments taking place in the “friendly and brotherly” Kazakhstan. To the other Turkic leaders, Erdogan underscored the importance of stability and security in Kazakhstan in terms of its neighbors and the entire region. On Tuesday, Turkey conveyed a video conference of the foreign ministers of the Organization of Turkic States. A joint statement issued after the meeting drew attention to the Turkic World Vision 2040 document as a “guideline for coordination, cooperation and mutual assistance in addressing domestic and international challenges.” Speaking to Nikkei Asia, Kazakhstan’s Ambassador to Ankara Abzal Saparbekuly explained that Kazakhstani Foreign Minister Mukhtar Tileuberdi did not put forward any request to the Turkic organization during the video conference, “but gave a detailed explanation of the accounts to member states.” “That was what the members wanted to hear, firsthand,” Saparbekuly said. “From here going forward, what kind of cooperation can be done will be decided at the next face-to-face meeting of member states,” he added. The Turkic World Vision 2040 document refers to building “a network for cooperation and information sharing among member states to combat threats of radicalization, violent extremism, Islamophobia, xenophobia and terrorism, and to ensure border security.” It also talks of jointly fighting organized crime, illegal drug trade, irregular migration as well as economic, financial and cybercrimes, but no reference is made to joint peace-keeping missions among member states. While Turkish officials have taken a careful and neutral stance on Russia and CSTO involvement in Kazakhstan, Turkish hawks have begun to call for a similar “Greater Turkic army” that can respond to such incidents. Retired Rear Admiral Cihat Yayci, who served as chief of staff of Turkish Naval Forces until 2020, told local media: “A Turan army should be established.” Yayci said it is unacceptable that Armenian forces entered Kazakhstan in the name of peace-keeping forces. Such comments will surely be monitored closely in Moscow and Beijing. Asked about the possibility of a future peace-keeping mission mandate for the organization on Saturday, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar told reporters: “These are all possibilities and all possibilities are on the table. As developments unfold, any such measures can be taken.” Akar added that Erdogan’s statement that Turkey is ready to share all kinds of information and experience with Kazakhstan “is an instruction for us.” “When any request, demand arrives and if we are instructed and ordered as such, we are ready to provide all kinds of help and support to our Kazakhstani brothers,” he said. Saparbekuly, the Kazakh envoy, said that while the Vision 2040 document does not discuss peace-keeping missions, “After the recent developments in Kazakhstan, every country will evaluate its sovereign decision” on whether to take part in such missions if they were introduced by the Turkic organization, “in line with their respective national interests and international agreements.” Saparbekuly previously served as deputy secretary general of the organization. Although Turkey has recently stepped up security cooperation with Kazakhstan through defense industry exports, education and training of Kazakh military personnel in Turkey and joint military drills, its security cooperation is no match for Russia. In Kazakhstan, Russia rents an anti-ballistic missile testing range as well as a spaceport known as Baikonur Cosmodrome. Saparbekuly confirmed media reports that Kazakhstan has acquired Turkish ANKA armed drones from Turkish Aerospace, saying: “We reached an agreement in principle probably two months ago but still deliveries, financial matters etc. have not been completed.” On Tuesday, Tokayev appointed Alikhan Smailov as new prime minister and announced that around 2,000 CSTO peace-keeping forces will start to withdraw from Kazakhstan in two days time as the “main mission of the CSTO peacekeeping forces has been successfully completed,” adding the withdrawal process will take “no more than 10 days.” The Turkish Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, announced Tuesday that Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu will travel to China on Wednesday. “It would be appropriate to see in Cavusoglu’s visit an attempt to tamp down concerns, or narratives, that the events in Kazakhstan were a product of pan-Turkist agitation, as some in China have intimated,” Outzen said. Turkey can also explain to Beijing that the Organization of Turkic States does not threaten Chinese interests, he said. Ogul Tuna, a researcher of post-Soviet studies at University of California, Irvine said that Cavusoglu’s upcoming visit to China can be an effort to balance Russia’s move as well as to reassure the Chinese that Ankara does not have a Pan-Turkist agenda.

Turkey helps to deter a Russian invasion of Azerbaijan

JAMI News, January 11, 2022, Op-ed: How does Turkey-Azerbaijan military alliance fit into Russia’s demands for NATO?, https://jam-news.net/op-ed-how-does-turkey-azerbaijan-military-alliance-fit-into-russias-demands-for-nato/

With regard to the expansion of NATO’s influence to the east, Russia calls the post-Soviet space its “red line”. However, Azerbaijan is actively cooperating with Turkey, a NATO member, in the military field. Turkey and Azerbaijan created a military alliance, which is enshrined in the declaration signed in 2021 in Shusha (Shushi). A vicious circle in Azerbaijan: electoral violations and belated decisions of the ECHR CSTO Security Council meeting: threat to Kazakhstan or the CSTO? According to the Shusha Declaration, signed on June 15, 2021, Azerbaijan and Turkey enter a military alliance. The document indicates the obligation of the parties of mutual military assistance in case of danger to sovereignty and territorial integrity. Azerbaijan and Turkey agree on mutual military assistance A declaration of alliance between Azerbaijan and Turkey has been signed in the city of Shusha (Armenian Shushi) liberated as a result of the second Karabakh war In addition, Turkey and Azerbaijan are conducting planned joint military exercises on the territory of both countries. The said declaration does not exclude the establishment of Turkish military bases on the territory of Azerbaijan. The Turkish army is the second most powerful army in NATO. During the Geneva talks between Russia and NATO, Moscow put forward a demand for the alliance not to extend its influence over the post-Soviet space, including the countries of the Caucasus. How can cooperation with a NATO member affect Azerbaijan’s relations with Russia? JAMnews addressed this question to the political observer Agshin Kerimov. “Russia’s demands are a clear threat” Since 1997, NATO has expanded its political geography in such a way that would have Russia surrounded in Eastern Europe. Russia’s concern stems from the fact that NATO is practically ‘under its nose’, and the situation itself is developing according to the Cold War scenario. The Ukrainian issue has brought the already turbulent, mutually zealous relationship to extreme escalation. Since 2004, when the former Soviet republics of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia became NATO members, enraged Russia has been rapidly expanding its military capabilities and has repeatedly conducted military maneuvers along its western borders. But despite Russia’s strategic and military advantage over the Baltic states, the Kremlin will not succeed in subordinating them to its political will for the simple reason that even during the Soviet era, this region was distinguished by its aggressiveness towards Russia. After the region came under NATO’s zone of influence, the expansion of the North Atlantic alliance to other post-Soviet countries became a “red line” for the Kremlin, and the question of Ukraine exacerbates the situation even more. For the same reason, Russia cannot stomach Georgia’s aspirations to join NATO; Moscow’s rhetoric is not any softer on this issue either. Russia demands from neighboring countries to clarify the boundaries of participation in NATO programs with integration into this Western alliance. This is an obvious threat. “Russia is trying to pull Baku into its orbit” As for Azerbaijan, Russia is trying to drag Baku into its orbit. Strategists of the Azerbaijani state understand the futility of this path, but are also trying to pursue a policy aimed at appeasing the Kremlin’s anger. Ultimately, this meets the interests of both the West and Moscow. Despite the fact that our region is now going through a post-war period, the principle of balance in Azerbaijan’s foreign policy has not been significantly violated. The West plays an important role in facilitating moments of Azerbaijan’s closeness to the Kremlin. During the second Karabakh war, Azerbaijan did not receive support from Western countries, with the exception of Great Britain. Baku predicted this in advance, and, therefore, took advantage of the tandem of Ankara and Moscow. “Azerbaijan is Turkey’s “red line” Naturally, the Kremlin’s warnings against NATO are also related to Azerbaijan, a country that has deepened cooperation with the North Atlantic alliance. At the moment, the Azerbaijani government is acting very carefully. Despite all this, the presence of the Turkish factor plays an important role in repelling any aggression. In this sense, the voicing of some open threats against Azerbaijan from Russia is associated with the factor of Turkey. The signing of the Shusha Declaration was an integral part of preventive measures, and it was very timely. This declaration itself is a continuation of the agreement signed between the two countries in 2010, and in fact can be called a document that creates new instruments for the post-war period. In addition, Azerbaijan and Turkey periodically conduct joint military exercises, and the Azerbaijani army is increasing its power. Perhaps the Kremlin has its own unspoken plans for Azerbaijan. But you shouldn’t take them seriously. Russia will not want to spoil relations with Turkey. And Azerbaijan is the same “red line” for Turkey. The most effective instrument in the hands of Russia is the peacekeepers deployed on the territory of Azerbaijan, and in this matter Baku does not find adequate support from Ankara. Despite all that has been said, Baku is convinced that Ankara, together with the Azerbaijani authorities, is trying to achieve the withdrawal of Russian peacekeepers from Karabakh.

Turkey provides important conflict mediation, including over Kazakhastan and the Ukraine. It’s membership in NATO makes it a unique negotiator

Nur Ozkan Erbay, January 6, 2022, Turkish foreign policy is starting 2022 at a fast and sharp pace, https://www.dailysabah.com/politics/news-analysis/turkish-foreign-policy-is-starting-2022-at-a-fast-and-sharp-pace

With the increased diplomatic traffic in the last quarter of 2021, it has become clear which areas Turkey will focus on to achieve tangible gains in foreign policy in 2022. In particular, Turkey, which has started the process of normalization with several countries on both a bilateral and regional level, seems intent to continue these steps in the new year. Ankara has been looking for ways to create common solutions in line with its win-win strategy despite differences of opinion on bilateral relations and regional issues with important partners such as Russia, the United States and the European Union. On the one hand, Turkey’s strategic approach, which continues to seek regional alliances, should be evaluated within the steps of normalization with the Gulf states, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Egypt and Armenia, especially in the last quarter of 2021. On the other hand, it would not be a surprise to say that Turkey, which continues to act as a mediator in global and regional crises as well as a critical member of NATO, will be much more active in helping to calm crises in 2022. Therefore, it would be useful to analyze the meetings of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu to find clues and follow their footsteps to make pointed assessments for the new year. Erdoğan conducted his first telephone conversation of 2022 with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, over the weekend. Erdoğan evaluated regional issues and international developments, especially in the Caucasus, Syria and Libya, which will continue to be on the agenda of Turkey and Russia in the new year. A statement by the Presidential Communications Office said that both leaders would maintain their decisiveness and commitment to promoting cooperation between Turkey and Russia in all areas during the meeting, while the Kremlin statement also said that Russia’s proposals for various security guarantees to the United States and NATO were discussed. In another interesting development, Çavuşoğlu held a meeting over the phone with his U.S. counterpart, Antony Blinken, on Tuesday. The main topic was the tension between Russia and NATO over Ukraine. During the meeting, the developments in Turkey-U.S. bilateral relations, the border crisis between Sudan and Ethiopia, the normalization process and the revitalization of strategic mechanism in the Caucasus and the Russian-Ukrainian tension were discussed before the upcoming NATO and OSCE gatherings, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. The statement of the U.S. State Department regarding the meeting also said that the two ministers discussed developments in the Horn of Africa, as well as the appointment of a special envoy to discuss the Turkish-Armenian normalization process and efforts to deepen bilateral cooperation. Among the other important developments in the first days of the new year, Erdoğan announced that he would travel to Saudi Arabia in February. This will be his first visit to Saudi Arabia since the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018. In the same month, Erdoğan will also travel to Abu Dhabi to pay a visit to United Arab Emirates (UAE) Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (MBZ), who visited Turkey after a long absence in November 2021. Meanwhile, regarding the normalization steps with the UAE, Çavusoglu said Abu Dhabi had submitted an offer on ground transportation and that Turkey was also considering warmly. Answering Daily Sabah’s question at the annual press conference, Çavuşoğlu also stated that UAE officials told Ankara that Turkey, Qatar and the UAE could operate the Kabul airport on a tripartite basis. As another remarkable step, following years of frozen ties, the neighboring countries of Turkey and Armenia have announced they seek to normalize relations amid efforts for regional integration and cooperation in the South Caucasus. Special envoys from Turkey and Armenia will hold the first round of talks aimed at normalizing ties in Moscow on Jan. 14, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said Wednesday, as the two countries work to mend ties after years of animosity. Armenia also announced that it is lifting an embargo on Turkish goods starting Jan. 1, as one of the first results of the process in addition to mutual flights recommencing between the two countries soon. In the light of all these developments, if these normalization steps form an important strategic dimension of Turkey’s foreign policy in 2022, the other step will be to form an important role for mediation that will aid in resolving regional and global crises. Çavuşoğlu also spoke over the phone with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Wednesday. According to the Foreign Ministry’s statement, Çavuşoğlu and Stoltenberg spoke to exchanged views ahead of the meeting of NATO foreign ministers and the NATO-Russia Council meeting, set for Jan. 12, amid rising tension over Ukraine and political turmoil in Kazakhstan. As another indication of the intense diplomatic traffic in Ankara, Çavuşoğlu on Thursday spoke over the phone with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. The two discussed the NATO-Russia council meeting, current developments in Kazakhstan, Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Caucasus. It will not be difficult to guess that Turkey will likely play an important mediating role in Russia-West tensions, as well as in the Ukraine and Kazakhstan case. Turkey, which has historical and cultural ties with these countries as well as being a NATO member, is in a unique, if not inevitable, position to mediate international and regional disputes. It is likely in the new year that not only the countries where normalization steps are ongoing but also NATO and the EU will knock on Turkey’s door much more in 2022, as is the case with Russia. Overall, the greatest strength of Turkish foreign policy in this period will be its flexibility in all these areas and countries, its inclusive approach and the fact that it respects the principle of multilateralism with sincerity and reliability.

Turkey undemocratic and won’t. cooperate with NATO

Cagaptay, 1-4, 22, Foreign Affairs, Erdogan’s End Game: Will He Undermine Turkish Democracy to Stay in Power? https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/middle-east/2022-01-04/erdogans-end-game

Over the past few months, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has looked increasingly desperate. He has stepped up his repression of critics and political opponents, including, most recently, Metin Gurcan, a founding member of the opposition Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA), who was arrested in November on espionage charges. He has threatened to expel diplomats from the United States and some of Turkey’s NATO allies. And as his popularity at home has nosedived, he has embarked on a reckless experiment to lower interest rates amid already high inflation, a policy that has pitched the country into economic turmoil. Meanwhile, he faces an emboldened—and increasingly united—opposition that for the first time poses a direct threat to his rule. The shift has been dramatic. For much of the past two decades, first as prime minister between 2003 and 2014 and then as president since 2014, Erdogan has seemed invincible. Bringing new prosperity to Turkey’s middle classes, he has pushed his Justice and Development Party (AKP) to victory in more than a dozen nationwide elections. He has weathered wars on his doorstep and, in 2016, an attempted coup. Styling himself as a new sultan, he has gained sweeping control over the judiciary, the media, the police, and other institutions of the state and civil society, even as he has ruthlessly cracked down on political opponents. In recent years, however, Erdogan’s authoritarian populism has lost its magic. Since the coup attempt, his government has become increasingly paranoid, going after not only suspected coup plotters but also members of the democratic opposition and subsequently arresting tens of thousands of people and forcing more than 150,000 academics, journalists, and others out of their jobs on suspicion of ties to the coup or simply for standing up to Erdogan. And his growing willingness to meddle in elections—including a bungled effort to reverse the outcome of Istanbul’s 2019 mayoral election—has galvanized the opposition. Now, with his support drastically eroding, the leader of the oldest democracy and biggest economy between Italy and India faces a reckoning: in 18 months’ time, Turkey will hold a presidential election that Erdogan is very unlikely to win. And because of his long legacy of corruption and abuse of power, he could well be prosecuted if ousted. It seems clear that Erdogan will try to do everything he can to stay in office, including undermining a fair vote, disregarding the result, or even fomenting a January 6–like insurrection. The urgent challenge confronting the country, then, is how to engineer a transfer of power that does not threaten the foundations of Turkish democracy itself, potentially sending shock waves of instability beyond the country’s borders into Europe and the Middle East. DEMOCRACY DIVERTED When he came to power in 2003, Erdogan was greeted as a reformer who would build and strengthen the country’s democratic institutions. At first, he and the AKP seemed to deliver on those promises. He improved access to services, such as health care, and delivered a decade of low unemployment and strong economic growth. Under Erdogan, Turkey became a majority middle-class society for the first time. He also expanded some freedoms, notably offering some minority language rights to Turkey’s Kurds. For awhile, these policies made Erdogan popular both at home and abroad. Domestically, he built a base of adoring supporters, who were mostly conservative, rural, working, lower-middle-class voters who reliably voted for the AKP in election after election. Meanwhile, his government was held up by the United States and Europe as a model of Muslim liberal democracy, a country that was seriously considered for membership in the European Union. But before long, Erdogan began to show far more authoritarian tendencies. In 2008, he unleashed the so-called Ergenekon case, a sweeping and largely inconclusive investigation into Turkey’s “deep state” in which more than 140 people were charged with plotting a coup against the democratically elected government. In fact, it quickly became clear that Erdogan—with help from the cleric Fethullah Gulen, the leader of the Gulen movement and an ally at the time, whose followers in the police, media, and judiciary helped concoct evidence targeting Erdogan’s democratic opponents—was attempting to root out the secularists who had long controlled state institutions. In his second decade in office, Erdogan resorted to harsher tactics to maintain power. In 2013, he used force to crack down on the Gezi protests, in which millions of antigovernment protesters took to the streets in Istanbul and other Turkish cities. After the protests, the government tightened the screws on civil society, and the space for political activism narrowed. Then, following the 2016 coup attempt, Erdogan used a prolonged state of emergency to further repress perceived threats to his rule. He launched a sweeping retribution campaign against his former allies in the Gulen movement, purging thousands of alleged and known Gulenists from government posts and throwing them in jail. And they were joined by growing numbers of socialists, social democrats, the Alevis (a liberal Muslim sect), liberals, leftists, Turkish and Kurdish nationalists, centrists, and even some conservatives opposed to Erdogan’s strong-arm populism. Meanwhile, Erdogan began to pivot away from Turkey’s longstanding ties to Europe and the United States. In 2013, he blamed President Barack Obama for General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s coup in Egypt, aligning himself increasingly with political Islamist forces in the Middle East, especially the Muslim Brotherhood. Although they were initially on opposite sides of the Syrian civil war, Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin also eventually entered an entente. Following Putin’s outreach to him in the aftermath of the 2016 coup attempt, Putin agreed to allow Turkey to go after the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which the United States had relied on to fight the Islamic State (or ISIS), and Erdogan committed to buying the Russian-made S-400 missile defense system. By 2020, Erdogan faced tough U.S. sanctions for the Russian defense agreement, and the seven-decade alliance between Washington and Ankara was entering its greatest crisis in recent memory.