Throughout the time that has passed since the 2014 February coup in Kiev, the Ukrainian regime has sought to bring its positions closer to Turkey. At the same time, the main goal of Kiev’s foreign policy was to build a formal appearance of “support” for its anti-Russian policy.
The choice of Turkey as an “ally” to jointly counter Russia on the southern borders, according to the idea of the Kiev developers of this scenario, was based on such factors:
First of all, Turkey is a NATO member, the military base of Incirlik is located on its territory and used by the US, therefore, Washington will approve the anti-Russian interaction between Kiev and Ankara.
Secondly, having cultivated on the Crimean territory an illegal (from the point of view of formal Ukrainian legislation) group of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People*, the Ukrainian authorities did their utmost to develop channels for financing this structure from Turkey. The money were officially intended for the construction of religious sites, settlements of compact residence, the establishment of infrastructure in them, etc. but in fact they significantly supplemented the Mejlis and, first of all, Djemilev’s budgets. Undoubtedly, the leadership of Ukraine for many years was aware of what was happening, but deliberately “turned a blind eye”, hoping that the Mejlis and its extremists will be able to intimidate the Russian majority of the peninsula and reduce the degree of its socio-political activity.
Reunification of Crimea with Russia led to the flight of several thousand Hizb-ut-Tahrir* and Mejlis activists from the peninsula to Ukraine, most of which concentrated in the Kherson region. The subsequent events clearly demonstrated the desire of the Kiev regime to make the Kherson region a place of concentration of Islamic radicals for organizing provocations against the Russian Crimea on a permanent basis. The American scenario of “managed chaos” assigned one of the key roles to the Kherson region as a territory on which anti-Russian subversive activities would be organized. It is the territory, since the script’s executor – the Euro-Atlantic puppet regime in Kiev did not care about the fate of the inhabitants of the region, moreover, Ukrainian nationalists constantly said that among the Kherson people there are strong pro-Russian moods and perhaps another “ATO” should be carried out there.
The crisis in Russian-Turkish relations, which began in November 2015 with a Russian SU-24 shot down by a Turkish pilot, instilled confidence in Poroshenko’s environment that Moscow and Ankara would no longer be able to return to close cooperation. At the same time, Poroshenko chose the tactics of attracting the Turkish side as a partner in the activities to create all sorts of problems for Russia.
To disguise the main purpose of such cooperation, Kiev was diligently talking about the economy, although no success was achieved in this field.
As a great “achievement”, the Ukrainian press presented the start of flights of the Turkish Airlines to Kherson airport because these planes could not fly to Russia’s Simferopol due to the sanctions imposed by the US and the EU. In addition, the Ukrainian expert assessed the agreement between the Foreign Minister of Ukraine Klimkin and Turkish Foreign Minister Cavusoglu on reciprocal travel of citizens on internal passports as “the news that as an important partner of Ukraine, Turkey’s simplifying of the travel procedure can be perceived as a balm per capita by Ukrainians who are disappointed with the EU policy”. The expert himself acknowledges that “the situation is restless” in Turkey, but at the same time hopes that simplification of access will lead to an increase in the number of Ukrainian tourists and the growth of the Turkish economy.
Not a single word on the growth of the Ukrainian economy as it is doubtful to expect the bulk of Ukrainian tourism to Turkish resorts, given the rapidly devaluing hryvnia, a sharp increase in utility payments and a general decline in incomes of Ukrainian residents. The general message of the expert is that this is a step towards Turkey and a certain political “advance” for the future on the part of Ukraine. For the sake of what the Ukrainian leadership distributes such “advances”?
The moment of the normalization of Russian-Turkish bilateral relations in the summer of 2016 took Poroshenko by surprise. He tried at least in words to get support of his anti-Russian position on the part of the Turkish leadership. During a telephone conversation on August 20, 2016, Erdogan assured the Ukrainian president “of the unchanged position of Turkey in supporting the territorial integrity of Ukraine in internationally recognized borders.”
Writing out wishful thinking, Poroshenko’s administration hastened to add to the words of the Turkish president that “Turkey does not recognize the occupation of the Crimea and continue to support Crimean Tatars in every possible way.”
During the remaining time, contacts at the level of the presidents of the two countries were held in a telephone mode and had a duty-congratulatory character. Even a personal meeting on the margins of the 71st session of the UN General Assembly was noted only by the intrusive proposals on the part of Poroshenko to his Turkish counterpart to “buy cheap”, that is, to privatize the remaining remnants of Ukrainian industry.
This level of relations clearly does not suit Poroshenko and his entourage. Seeing Turkey’s clear interest in deepening contacts with Russia and cold politeness towards Ukraine, the Ukrainian top decided to go against the Turkish leadership through the usual way of blackmail and threats.
As an instrument of pressure, the non-governmental organization FETO was chosen, whose functionaries the Turkish authorities consider to be involved in the attempted summer coup d’état of 2016.
In general, the Ukrainian government throughout the entire period of independence surprisingly tolerated the finding on its territory of various extremist Islamist groups banned in many countries around the world. In addition to the Mejlis and Hizb-ut-Tahrir mentioned above, FETO expanded its activities in Ukraine.
The company started its work in the far 90s, right after the collapse of the USSR. Since 2001, operates under the guise of the International School “Meridian”, which has 2 buildings in Kiev and one in Odessa. All services are paid and in English.
The Ukrainian-Turkish cultural center “Işık” (Syaivo), operating in Kyiv from 2013, is one of the branches of FETO. Like in other countries, the media sphere is indispensable for FETO in Ukraine as well. The terrorist organization expresses its opinion on the events in Turkey and Ukraine through the news portal Ukraynahaber.
After the Turkish news agency Anadolu published an article stating that “FETO” has a wide-spread network of branches in Ukraine, some Ukrainian media started publishing materials denying the connection of the above structures with “FETO”.
In the article entitled “Erdogan’s enemies in Ukraine: who are they and why they did not please the Turkish president,” Channel 1 + 1 journalists interviewed the management and functionaries of the “influence” centers listed in the “Anadolu” material. Naturally, they all denied any connection with Gulen. At the same time they called the “FETO” leader a “philosopher” and even led such an exotic argument as “coincidence of ideas” by Gulen and Skovoroda.
It is curious that 1 + 1 TV channel was previously owned by Kolomoysky, and now, after the oligarchs’ struggle, has become the property of Poroshenko’s business structures and provides full media support to the Ukrainian president.
Turkey’s official position on the “Ukrainian track” of “FETO” is pretty straightforward. According to the Consul General of the Turkish Republic in Odessa Torgula: “In Turkey, all schools connected with Gülen were closed and we demand the same from Ukraine”.
The reaction of Ukrainian officials to Turkish demands is based on the position of ignoring the obvious and “letting things go on the brakes.” Deputy Minister of Education and Science of Ukraine Greba told the Anadolu agency that the issues of countering terrorism are not within the competence of the agency, country’s security (SBU) is pursuing this issue.
In the very SBU directly subordinated to Poroshenko, they did not perceive threats in the activity of FETO cells under cover in Ukraine for Turkey: “Information that would point to the former dangerous activity on the territory of Ukraine”, to disseminate materials with calls for violent changes or overthrow of the constitutional order or to seize state power in Ukraine or Turkey, is currently not available”.
Thus, the ruling regime in Ukraine is actually engaged in harboring in its territory the Turkish anti-presidential forces implicated in the attempted coup d’état in Turkey. This enables Poroshenko to exert pressure on Erdogan in order to force him to minimize contacts with the Russian side and actively join the anti-Russian course of the current Ukrainian regime.