Feb 14 2018

Turkey must co-operate with Russia without falling captive – analyst

Russia and Turkey have long avoided any bilateral problems in the Black Sea region, Boris Toucas, a visiting fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said, but Russia’s increasing power in both the Black Sea and on Turkey’s southern border threatens Turkey’s autonomy in its neighbourhood.

“The regional power imbalance with Russia constrains Turkey’s autonomy of action in the region,” Toucas wrote.

“Turkey’s modest fleet in the Black Sea has never counterbalanced Russia’s overall power and has now been overwhelmed by Russia’s build-up of its Black Sea fleet since its 2014 annexation of Crimea … Turkey is constantly struggling to find a balance between its national security interests and its commitments as a NATO ally.”

If it wants to maintain its independence from Moscow now that it is moving away from the United States, Ankara should strengthen its alliances with smaller powers on the Black Sea littoral, Toucas said.

“In the end, if it wants to remain a leading stakeholder in the region, Ankara will have to strengthen ties with Romania and Bulgaria, whose EU and NATO membership increase their regional significance, no matter what its disagreements with both countries and the European Union,” he said.

“Only then would Turkey be able to talk to Russia as an equal and positively use its peculiar relationship with Moscow as an asset to stabilise the region.”