Erdogan in a choice between Russia and the West

Erdogan in a choice between Russia and the West

The U.S. offers Turkey to conduct a simultaneous simultaneous game session at two sites at once: the Ukrainian and Syrian ones. Turkey may end up on the dole everywhere

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan continues to receive seemingly maximum political preferences from his mediation efforts between Moscow and Kiev to settle the Ukrainian crisis. He announced his intention to have another phone conversation with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. He also clarified that Ankara was “negotiating both with the opposing sides and with the relevant structures for a peaceful settlement of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict”.

Moreover, in a meeting with UN Secretary-General António Guterres in Ankara, who was interested in the details of Turkey’s mediation mission, Erdoğan urged countries to “support the Istanbul process” and recognize Turkey as almost the only “crucial platform to resolve the Ukrainian-Russian crisis”.

He said “our goal is to take the Istanbul process to the leaders’ level and achieve final agreements that will end the war”. “There is progress. However Moscow and Kiev are far from what we want,” Erdogan said. – “We hope for progress. We do not lose hope.”

However, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov noted that Ukraine was rejecting its own proposals and creating numerous provocations in order to slow down the negotiating process.

Objectively, the situation is such that Turkey cannot influence the development of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, and the idea of resuming the Istanbul process is developing in parallel, according to its own scenario, in which Ankara manages to conduct its own multi-track political combination. It is primarily a question of the American direction.

The fact is that initially the U.S. was wary of Ankara’s mediation efforts in Ukraine, believing that “Erdogan is playing on Putin’s side”. Moreover, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu stated that “there are countries in NATO that are interested in the continuation of the conflict between Moscow and Kiev”. But Moscow, for its part, has recorded that the negotiation process with Kiev is controlled by the Americans, who are dragging out the negotiations and trying to derail them.

And now, according to former Turkish Foreign Minister Yaşar Yakış, Washington has decided to pull Ankara on its side. According to him, the first result of the U.S. position change is the possibility of selling F-16 fighter jets to Turkey, which it was previously denied.

Recall that in early February, Frank Pallone, Chairman of the US House Committee on Energy and Commerce sent a letter to the State Department urging the Biden administration not to deliver F-16 fighters and upgrade kits to Turkey “because of its human rights abuses and deployment of Russian-made S-400 air defence systems”.

The State Department now believes that the potential sale of F-16s to Turkey would “benefit both US and NATO security interests, especially in the wake of the Ukraine crisis”. Ankara has been dangled like a carrot in front of its nose at the prospect of getting the F-35 as well. There are signs that the Americans will lean towards Turkey in Syria in a situation where, according to Yakış, “the cooperation that Washington and Moscow have maintained in Syria has been suspended.”

In other words, Turkey is invited to play a simultaneous game on two platforms at once: Ukrainian and Syrian.

In this context, Ankara’s sudden decision to ban Russian aircrafts, both military and civilian, from flying into Syria is suggestive. In principle, such a ban would not be fatal for Russian operation in Syria. But there is a report from the SANA agency that the US has begun a massive transfer of weapons and materiel from Iraqi territory to its base in the town of Hrab al-Jir in the Syrian province of Hassakeh. It is controlled by the Kurdish “Democratic Forces of Syria”. Therefore, tying the Ukrainian crisis and Syrian events into a single knot, various political-military combinations cannot be ruled out. Yakış believes that if the balance of power between the US and Russia in Syria shifts towards the Americans, it will affect Turkey in two ways.

One nuance would be a weakening of Russian support for Bashar al-Assad’s regime, which Ankara would welcome. However, that support is likely to remain at a level that allows the Syrian regime to float, but not sink.

Moscow will keep Turkey at arm’s length and avoid unnecessary confrontation with it. But the effect of the shift in the balance of power will also be a continuation of the American policy of supporting the Kurds, which is dangerous for Ankara. The Russian ambassador to Turkey, Alexei Yerkhov, has said that “it is the non-participation in the regime of anti-Russian restrictions and maintaining contacts and relations with both Russia and Ukraine that gives Turkey grounds to claim this mediating role between Moscow and Kiev”. But things may soon change. Turkey is being forced to make a choice. Various ways out of the current situation cannot be ruled out. Including new agreements between Ankara and Moscow on certain terms.

Stanislav Tarasov, REGNUM news agency

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