Nov 03 2017

Turkey’s warmth towards Ukraine not bothering Russia – academic

Relations between Turkey and Ukraine have gone from strength to strength since Turkey downed a Russian warplane on the Syrian border in November 2015, and Russia does not seem to mind, according to an article by an academic and think-tanker.

Dimitrar Bechev, a research fellow at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council think-tank, said Turkey had been outspoken in support of Ukraine recovering its territorial integrity from Russian-backed separatists.

The country has even lent its support to a volunteer battalion of Crimean Tatars fighting on the Ukrainian government side.

Bechev said defence co-operation that began during the 2015–2016 freeze in Turkey’s relations with Russia led to a series of important military equipment production deals. Moreover, Turkish construction companies have started winning important contracts in Ukraine and recently built the Donbas Arena in the now separatist-controlled town of Donetsk.

So why does Russia not see this move towards Kiev as a potential threat to bilateral relations? Bechev suspects Russia sees Ukraine as a relatively unimportant competitor, plus it knows it has a strong hand against Turkey if it ever needed to use it:

First, [Russia’s] military is deployed around Turkish borders, in Syria, in Armenia, and in Crimea. And second, Turkey’s remains dependent on Russian energy imports and is vulnerable to trade embargoes.