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HomeGeopolitical CompassWest & Centeral AsiaTurkey Could Lose Big in the Russia-Ukraine Standoff

Turkey Could Lose Big in the Russia-Ukraine Standoff

Author: Jeffrey Mankoff

Affiliation: Research Fellow at the U.S. National Defense University’s Institute for National Strategic Studies

Organization /Publisher: Foreign Policy

Date/Place: January 13, 2022/Washington, D.C., USA

Type of Literature: Analysis

Word Count: 1708



Keywords: NATO, Turkey, Russia, Ukraine, and Standoff


The analysis focuses on the Russia-Ukraine conflict that could flip Turkey’s balancing act between NATO and Russia. The author, Jeffrey Mankoff, argues the binary of the role of Ankara, which seems to be persuaded that the crisis on Ukraine’s borders can be resolved diplomatically, but Russian officials perceive Turkey’s military-technical relationship with Kyiv and its involvement with the Crimean Tatar community as provocative gestures. Turkey’s intention to reclaim its greater strategic autonomy and influence over the Balkans, Arab Middle East, and the Caucasus have left it isolated from many NATO allies and locked in a complex dance act with Russia. On the other hand, the recent rapprochement in the relationship and the decision to purchase the Russian S-400 air defense system has brought Russian tolerance toward Turkey’s stance in Syria, Libya, and South Caucasus. The author raises concerns about the balancing that Russia could handle to pressure against Turkish interests in Syria’s Idlib pocket to make sure Ankara stays on the sidelines in Ukraine. It could also dangle carrots: Coupled with the downturn in gas supplies to Europe through Belarus and Ukraine, the cancellation or suspension of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline by German regulators would be a boon for the Blue Stream and TurkStream pipelines, reinforcing (at least in the short term) Turkey’s ambitions to bolster its role as a transit state. Although the author’s supposition regarding Turkey’s involvement in Ukraine’s conflict with Russia is worrisome, the Russia-Ukraine standoff is not a bilateral issue because the international community is more concerned about Russia’s involvement in Ukraine. Jennifer Psaki, the White House Press Secretary, issued a press release mentioning that if Russia intervenes in the Ukraine, the US and its allies would respond immediately. The Turkish leadership is playing wisely and will not go to direct confrontation; like many times before, Turkey and Russian leadership resolve issues diplomatically. It may affect Erdogan’s time in office, but it does not mean that he has lost popularity. Remember that during the Azerbaijan-Armenian issue, the Turkish people were on the streets supporting the government.

By: Razia Wadood, CIGA Senior Research Associate 



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