Apr 14 2018

Turkey-Russia alignment only “transactional” – analyst

The temporary alignment of Turkey’s interests with Russia in Syria is not a permanent axis shift but a transactional relationship that suits both parties for the moment, Aaron Stein, senior resident fellow at the Atlantic Council, said.

“This posture does not forebode a shift in “axis” whereby Turkey will abandon its traditional alliance structure in favour of a Russian-dominated region,” Stein said.

“Instead, it shows that Ankara now treats Moscow in much the same way as the United States: a transactional partner.”

As Turkey’s main target in Syria has shifted from being President Bashar Assad’s regime to combatting U.S.-affiliated Kurdish militias on its border, has changed its position on the wider conflict, Stein said.

“Ankara now has a symbiotic relationship with Russia, wherein the two sides need one another to try and settle the conflict,” he wrote. “In many ways, Ankara’s vulnerability is similar to that of the United States, which also has troops in country, and is reliant on a de-escalation mechanism to prevent unwanted clashes with Iran, Russia, and the regime.”

For the moment, therefore, Turkey must keep working with Russia while it has vulnerabilities on the ground, Stein said.

“Turkey is committed to working through Russia to secure its interests, and has spoken out against American goals in northeastern Syria,” he said.

“These dynamics are certain to continue, even if Turkey speaks out in favour of the forthcoming military strike.”