Tag Archives: nato

The geopolitical influence of Russia on Turkish political tactics and strategies


The extraordinarily troublesome year 2020 tested many international institutions and bilateral ties, but few experienced sharper challenges than the complex and troubled relations between Russia and Turkey,which have a strong impact on crisis developments in Europe’s immediate neighborhood.

In the last two decades, Turkish foreign policy has undergone a remarkable transformation and Eurasianism, with its anti-Western and pro-Russian rhetoric, has become more visible in the foreign policy practices/activities of the JDP (Justice and Development Party) government.

The question regarding the nature of the relations between Turkey and Russia it seems so much contradictory today. On the side of a NATO member perspective, one could say that Turkey’s positioning is ”highly isolated and more broadly leads members to reflect on the positioning of its vis-à-vis the United States”, whose unilateralism is now giving rise to new alliances.

While closer relations bring several benefits with little cost to Russia, it is difficult to say the same for Turkey, particularly when it comes to the cost of these relations. One could make a long list of benefits that Russia gains from engagement or cooperation. Meanwhile Turkey has accrued some benefits—for example, by disrupting the plans of Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD in northwestern Syria—but this has come at a high price). Turkey’s acquisition of the S-400 missile systems from Russia has led to its removal from the United States’ F-35 program and sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act. In broader terms, its closer relations with Russia have generated heated discussions in the West regarding Turkey’s place in .

The tumultuous year 2020 tested and significantly degraded the always ambiguous Russian-Turkish partnership, which has become transactional at best and certainly not “strategic”. The foundation of economic ties, and first of all the export of Russian natural gas to Turkey, has seriously weakened. Even if both states experience an economic recovery in the coming months, which is by no means certain, the trade and investment flows would hardly recover. In the temporarily and disagreeably suspended Syrian and Libyan wars, Russia and Turkey are not only backing opposite factions but also manipulating the risks of a direct military confrontation. Turkish forceful interference in the Nagorno Karabakh war was decisive in securing the victory for Azerbaijan and devalued Russian security guarantees for Armenia.

This breakthrough was far more disturbing for Moscow than the official discourse reveals, and the deployment of a Russian peacekeeping force cannot restore the capacity to dominate security developments in the Caucasus. Personal ties between the two ambitious leaders suffice for finding a mode of deconflicting in these war zones, but their mutual irritation and mistrust are accumulating. Thirty years ago, Russia’s supremacy in the Caspian Sea was unquestioned. Even with the independence of new countries with their own navies in the early 1990s, Russia and its Caspian Flotilla had little to fear.

On June 26 of this year, the Turkish government began constructing the first bridge over Canal Istanbul, the huge waterway project designed to run parallel to the Bosporus Strait. Ankara has presented the megaproject as a strategic move that will turn Turkey into a logistics base and grant it geo-political leverage over both regional and international trade and transportation routes. However, Turkey’s political opposition considers Canal Istanbul to be a rent-seeking project designed to attract international – prob­ably Chinese and Arab – investment in the hope of reviving Turkey’s deteriorating economy. The Canal may also affect the Montreux Convention, the decades old treaty that governs the Turkish Straits. Given the rivalry between the US and Russia, ques­tions around the Montreux Convention will add another point of contention, increase tensions and may also present serious consequences for Turkey.

Russia, however, would be deeply concerned about any attempt to alter the status quo as the Convention constrains unwelcome Western presence in the Black Sea while also providing Russia an opportu­nity to develop an anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) capability. Arguably, the impor­tance of the Turkish Straits for Russia has increased with the start of the Syrian Civil War in 2011.

The maturing of autocratic regimes in Russia and Turkey does not facilitate their rapprochement in the security domain, as each ambitious ruler is more interested in exploiting the opportunities emerging from the conflict the other one is facing in relations with the West than in extending a helping hand to the fellow dictator-in distress. Also some observers suggest Ankara could see its drone sales to Ukraine as powerful leverage over Moscow in a number of regional disputes that are going on between the two.

A major problem for Turkey in its relations with Russia remains the asymmetry, even if interdependent, in favour of Moscow. Yet, the nature of asymmetry is dynamic and subject to change, as Turkey has engaged in what can be termed dependency reduction on Russia, both geopolitically and structurally (energy-wise).

  • Eurasianism and Blue Homeland

With the demise of the Soviet Union, Turkey saw the emergence of a potential area of influence for itself in Central Asia. Supported by the West, its Eurasianism in this period meant Turkey could play a leading role in the affairs of the newly independent Central Asian and Caucasus states. Hence it was also premised on a competitive agenda with Russia. However, despite its early eagerness to take advantage of this epochal development, Turkey failed to cultivate a leading role in Central Asia.

Unlike the more geopolitically informed early forms of its Eurasianism in the post-Cold War era, Turkey’s recent turn to Eurasia, driven partially by its deepening discontent with the West, seeks to build closer relations with Russia and China. This latest form, present earlier among some military officers and marginal political groups in the early 2000s, carries a strong suspicion of the West as the constitutive ingredient of its political identity. Thus, the current Eurasianism is essentially an ideological disposition rather than a coherent geopolitical vision. Its most recent manifestation can be seen through the imprecise, nebulous, and unofficial Blue Homeland geopolitical concept.

The Blue Homeland concept effectively means three things. First, it represents an expanded vision and understanding of Turkey’s maritime boundaries in the Mediterranean. Second, it is the navy’s call to reimagine and reposition the country as a maritime power. Third, the ideological concept—as exemplified by the narrative of its creators who believe that Turkish geopolitical interests are better served through realignment with Russia and China—signifies a reimagining of the country’s place in the world.

Syria is central to the current shape of Turkey-Russia relations. It offers a model of partnership for both countries in a context where their interests are competitive. However, the Syrian-centric cooperation between Turkey and Russia is also special and is thus unlikely to be replicated elsewhere due to structural constraints and contextual nuances.

Developments at the broader international level, a new administration in the US, and rising tension between Ukraine and Russia indicate that Turkey would face more constraints and higher costs for its geopolitical balancing act between the West and Russia.

In spite of the dynamism and developments in Tur­kish-Russian relations since 2015, analysts say that they cannot extra­polate that the same level of cooperation will con­tinue, provided that Turkish-Western relations do not experience a rupture.

  • The new instable geopolitical puzzle

To explain these increasingly close relations in recent years, the analysis mainly features Turkey’s motives. What is perplexing is not that Russia would want to form closer relations with Turkey regionally or bilaterally; the benefits of such engagements for Russia is clear. On top of economic and energy inter­ests (including Russia building Turkey’s first nuclear power plant) and given Turkey’s membership in NATO, undermining NATO’s cohesion and creating more friction between Ankara and its NATO partners serve Russia’s interests. For instance, as a NATO mem­ber, Turkey’s purchase of the S-400 systems confers more prestige on these systems and generates more tension between Turkey and the US – both of these developments serve Russia well.

Similarly, coopera­tion with Turkey gave more legitimacy to Russian-designed processes in the conflict zones, most impor­tantly in Syria. The list of benefits that Russia has accrued from its engagements or cooperation with Turkey goes on. Plus, unlike Turkey, Russia does not have to pay a cost for forming increasingly close rela­tions with Turkey. In contrast, from being removed from the F-35 fighter jet programme to the CAATSA sanctions to the deepening crisis in its relations with the West, Turkey has to pay a heavy price for its close relations with Russia and purchasing the Russian-made S-400 missile systems.

The concept of an “axis of excluded” has been utilised as one of the explanatory paradigms that has been adopted by certain analysts to account for the deepening of Turkish-Russian relations. The basic argument behind this approach is that, despite struc­tural differences and contrasting worldviews  be­tween Turkey and Russia, both actors are opting for closer relations as a result of their shared frustrations with Western and US policies being directed towards them.

The state and health of Turkish-US relations has a direct impact on the nature of Turkish-Russian relations. At least, this is the case from Turkey’s per­spective. Relatedly, the opacity of US policy – or the perceived loss of its strategic clarity – the nature of its local partnerships in Syria (particularly its evolving relationships with the Syrian Democratic Forces, the backbone of which is formed by the YPG, which is affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, PKK), and regional alliances (the US being highly supportive of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Israel’s regional designs and visions in recent years) have further driven wedges between Turkey and the US. 

In this regard, Turkey’s governing elites often justify Turkey’s closer relations with Russia and China by referring to the fashionable, but largely nebulous, concept of searching for strategic autonomy in Turkish foreign policy. 

 It is also important to note that the natures of the political economies of Turkey and Russia are also constraining factors in bilateral relations. Russia pursues policies that will reflect the interests of a major energy-exporting country, whereas Turkey represents a major energy-importing country in its regional policy. Whereas Russia favours high energy prices, Turkey’s interests lie in low energy prices, particularly given Turkey’s huge current account deficit, which is partially caused by Turkey’s increasing energy needs. This incompatibility in the two countries’ political eco­nomies will have some implications on their regional policies and interactions.

Both of them, Turkey and Russia have had different standings on the regional status quo. At the regional level, after the Arab uprisings, Turkey operated as a revisionist power. It supported the overthrow of authoritarian regimes and the establishment of a new regional order, developing closer relations with the pro-change forces in the region. Despite the fact that in recent years, Turkey has adopted a much more cautious stance on the continuing waves of protests in the Middle East, this does not change the overall picture.

In contrast, Russia has operated as a status quo power in the region, displaying clear preferences for regional authoritarian strong men such as Sisi and Assad. It was suspicious towards the Arab uprisings and supported the incumbent regimes. Such a diver­gence of preferences as regards the regional status quo created a strategic incompatibility between the two powers’ regional visions.

However, to be honest, I don’t believe the fact that renowned think tanks keep pushing the scenario possibility that Ankara will leave NATO and pursue its own foreign/military policy. If there is one thing which will never happen in Turkey, that is the exit from this alliance. Never. For a simple reason: NATO is the ultimate shield protecting Turkey against nuclear powers in the proximity, especially against Russia.

References:

  1. https://www.ifri.org/sites/default/files/atoms/files/baev_turkey_russia_2021.pdf
  2. https://www.gmfus.org/news/turkeys-geopolitical-and-ideological-eurasianism-and-its-relations-russia
  3. https://www.swp-berlin.org/10.18449/2021RP05/

Gee, Why Is Russia So Paranoid?


In Saner Thought

There is much talk these days that Russia is just being paranoid….that NATO and the USA does not have any intentions of starting a new Cold War….

I had try to explain a little history of Russia to help my readers try to grasp their thinking….

Source: “A Paranoid Russia” – In Saner Thought

Then the most recent build up in Eastern Europe of US armor……

Source: The Return of “Heavy Metal” | Ace News Room

Then more recent news of US troops moved to the Russia border in Norway…..

Tensions are already on the rise between the US and Russia over massive US deployments in Germany for a training exercise marching east toward Russia. A force of US Marines are now heading to Trondheim, Norway for another deployment along the Russian border.

Russia is none too happy, again, both annoyed at the US for deployment yet more troops…

View original post 52 more words

Espen Barth Eide: Nuland’s Norwegian Hawk & Foreign Minister N. Kotzias’ interview to the Athens/Macedonian News Agency


By   /   Independent Balkan News Agency

The Norwegian Special Adviser to the UN Sec Gen on Cyprus Espen Barth Eide, was one of the protagonists in the Cyprus talks and the International Conference in Geneva.

Eide who has been coordinator of the negotiations since August 22, 2014, when he was officially appointed by the then UN Secretary General Ban-ki-Moon, has played his own role in the efforts to resolve the issue.

The truth is that a consultant and facilitator, should be distinguished by the excellent knowledge of the subject he is dealing with and of course by his impartiality acting on UN resolutions and international law. But is this the case for Mr. Eide?

According to IBNA information, Mr. Eide was caught unprepared when in conversation with a senior diplomat, he insisted that there are no UN decisions for occupation troops in Cyprus. Naturally his statements were made known to the Greek side which caused the immediate reaction of the Greek diplomacy, which then presented him the relevant UN resolutions, where there is an explicit reference to occupation troops. Ignorance or deliberate misinformation?

Espen Eide, a former Minister of Defence and Minister of Foreign Affairs for Norway, an atlanticist and and opponent of Russia, according to IBNA information, was chosen for this position by the UN with the intervention of the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland.

Mrs. Nuland is not a stranger for Espen Eide, as she has served as the US ambassador to NATO. Former Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg who is the current NATO Secretary General gave Espen Eide a Ministerial position. The selection of Eide in August 2014 as a UN special adviser on Cyprus and Stoltenberg in October 2014 as the NATO Secretary General, occurred after Nuland withdrew from office in September 2013. It is clear that this series of events is not just coincidence.

Eide’s strange role, which seems to serve the interests of the deep state in the United States, also showed in discussions at the International Conference in Geneva, where his primary objective was a fast, pre-January 20th first agreement  “solution” that would bind all parties especially Cyprus.

Why January 20th? Quite simply because it is then that the US President formally changes and Mrs. Nuland will not be able to carry out any plan she was serving, and will lose both her position and influence. Officially at least. But Espen Eide’s position is precarious, as the new UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, has a different plan for his term in office and the Norwegian politician doesn’t seem to be in his plans so far.

The new UN Secretary General, as a former Prime Minister of Portugal with the Socialist Party and President of Socialist International, has a different political logic from his “grey” and “stiff” by European standards, predecessors.

However Espen Eide, once again confirmed the special role he assumed by opting to postpone a meeting with the Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ankara and reschedule it in NY where he returned hastily when informed of the meeting Mr. Guterres and the Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzia were going to have on Cyprus. Was this coincidence?Perhaps…

Espen Eide, is not working in the interests of both communities in Cyprus, nor the guarantors. He is working with other interests in mind, and everything indicates that all roads lead to the natural gas reserves found in the region and to anti-Russian policy. Something which seems not only to cause a problem in solving the Cyprus problem but is also creating unwanted tension between the guarantor powers./ΙΒΝΑ

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias sharply criticised foreign and Greek press reports on Sunday which blamed him for the breakup in Cyprus talks in Geneva saying that the Turkish side had interrupted the talks unexpectedly.

  • JOURNALIST: Do articles that came out today, mainly in “Politico,” question your positive influence regarding the results?

Those who speak for their master — Turkey, that is — can be expected to believe that it would be a success in Geneva if we gave into the Turks, legitimised their rights of intervention and their ability/potential to occupy a portion of Cyprus. We have a different outlook: European and international law must be implemented, sovereignty must be granted to Cyprus, the greatest possible rights must be granted to the Turkish Cypriots, and the greatest possible sense of security must be given to the Greek Cypriots.

There have been a number of distortions of the facts. For example, they are saying that, since the technical teams are starting their meetings next week, we interrupted the process. That isn’t true. The UN Secretary-General, President Anastasiades and myself proposed the day before yesterday, Friday, that the Geneva Conference continue on a political level. As it was scheduled to do. And why — and this is very important — should it have continued on a political level? To give instructions as to how the technical teams will work. Because the Turks, who left the negotiations — who got up and left early Friday morning — said they didn’t have time for political consultations and to let the technical teams meet. But the technical teams can’t meet without political instructions. We had scheduled political consultations and the continuation of the Geneva Conference on a political level for Thursday and Friday, and they cancelled it. And it is shocking that there are European, Greek and other news media taking the side of those who cancelled the agreed process in Geneva. There are some people who think they can do whatever they want and then, on top of that, shift the blame onto those who insist on what was agreed.

  • Featured Image, Source:

Video: Croatian MP, Ivan Pernar, delivers powerful speech on Syria, Libya and why Croatia should never have joined NATO (EN/FR)


With over a 1.5 million views of the video of his speech, newly elected Croatian MP Ivan Pernar has become a star for anti-establishment activists around the Balkan region.

Criticized as pro-russian or even populist,  Pernar, 31, a first-time MP from the opposition anti-establishment Living Wall – a party born out of a movement formed to stop seizures of homes – told BIRN that his appearance is not the primary cause for the popularity of the video, but “hunger among people for the truth”.

Even if we don’t agree with all his points of view, its worth sharing.

In 2011, he was a founder of the Alliance for Change, a party that later transformed itself into Living Wall. This earned its reputation by defying the police when they enforced evictions of people from their homes, as a result of which Pernar was arrested a few times.

He went onto criticize Croatia’s role as a NATO member and highlighted how old Croatian weapons from the wars that broke up Yugoslavia ended up in the hands of jihadists in Syria.

According to Vecernji list, ever since he entered Parliament, Ivan Pernar has turned into one of the most famous politicians both in the country and abroad. The newspaper reports that Pernar gave an interview to the Russian Sputnik agency, in which he spoke of NATO, Russia, and the USA, qualifying NATO as “a threat to the entire world, just like Germany under Hitler”.

Français:

En totalisant plus de 1,5 million de vues, la vidéo de son discours au Parlement Croatian, Ivan Pernar, qui a été récemment élu député, est devenu une star pour les militants au contre-pouvoir dans la région des Balkans.

Critiqué comme étant pro-Russe ou même populiste, Ivan, élu pour la première fois au Parlement et faisant partie de l’opposition contre-pouvor au sein du parti Zivi Zid (Mur Vivant) n’a pas su mâcher ses mots. Zivi Zid, a été créé en 2011 ayant pour but d’arrêter les saisies de maisons en Croatie.Pour cette raision, Pernar a été arrêté à plusieurs reprises.

Il a déclaré sur BIRN (Balkan Insight.com) qu’il lui semblait que son apparition n’est pas la cause principale pour la popularité de cette vidéo mais “la soif de vérité chez le peuple”.

Sur la vidéo, Pernar, il critique sevèrement le rôle de la Croatie en tant que membre de l’OTAN en soulignant comment des vieilles armes croates de la guerre qui a éclaté en Yougoslavie ont fini dans les mains des djihadistes en Syrie.

Selon le journal Vecernji list, depuis qu’il est entré au Parlement, Ivan Pernar est devenu l’un des plus célèbres hommes politiques Croates  en Croatie et à l’étranger à la fois. Le journal rapporte que Pernar a donné une interview à l’agence Sputnik russe, dans laquelle il a parlé de l’OTAN, la Russie et les Etats-Unis, qualifiant l’OTAN comme «une menace pour le monde entier, tout comme l’Allemagne sous Hitler”.

  • Sources: Balkan Insight.com, Vecernji List, Sputnik News, Wikipedia, Youtube

Photo Credit: @Sputnik News