Erdoğan-Putin relationship under strain over Nagorno-Karabakh conflict - Bloomberg

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has put his relationship with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to the test by involving Turkey in reignited border clashes between Azerbaijan and Armenia in the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, Bloomberg said on Monday.

Turkey has thrown its firm support behind Azerbaijan in the clashes as a means to expand its zone of influence in the Caucasus, a former Soviet domain, but it risks rebuke from Russia which can strike at Turkish interests in multiple theatres, Bloomberg said.

“Erdoğan is really testing Putin’s patience,” Bloomberg cited Alexander Dynkin, president of the Institute of World Economy and International Relations of the Russian Academy of Sciences, which also advises the Kremlin, as saying.

“He irritates Putin more and more.”

Turkey and Russia have managed to establish a relationship that is mutually beneficial but also fraught with complications in the Syrian and Libyan civil wars, where the two support opposing sides. Nagorno-Karabakh is only adding to Russian discomfort, Bloomberg said.

“If the direct participation of the Turkish military or militants from Syria is proven, that will be a red line,” Dynkin said. “This isn’t the kind of multi-polarity Putin wanted.”

Paris and Moscow have said that Syrian fighters have transited through Turkey to fight against Armenian forces. Turkey and Azerbaijan have denied the claims.

“For the moment these two big bears are managing to mark out their territory, but Erdoğan should be careful not to overstep the limits,” Bloomberg cited Arkady Dubnov, a Moscow-based analyst, as saying.

“His country is a major regional power, but he mustn’t forget that Russia considers itself the dominant player here.”