Potential Crisis in Turkish-Russian Relations

In a period of heightened suspense between Turkey and the United States (US), in regard to the Pastor Brunson case, a tension in Turkish-Russian relations wouldn’t be welcomed; at least in Ankara. Presumably though, Kremlin is looking at the issue from this perspective and plans are being made to maximise Russia’s benefit from the conflict between Ankara and Washington. This fact can be contrived as “Russian Opportunism”, which constantly recurs in its historical southward policy.

At this point, the first conceivable benefit or opportunity is to persuade Turkey into an arbitrary servitude towards Russia so to expand the current Turkish-US crisis into a general impasse in the West and in a strict sense cause a NATO exigency. This matter, although not broached explicitly by the Russians can be easily deduced through the outcome of the Helsinki Summit and the recent “inapprehensible” stances of Moscow, which connote to a “justified doubt”.

Similarly, the “Russian intentions” which do not fit into sacks and the recent heavy weather regarding the cooperation in Syria once again submit the pragmatic approach.  Especially, Idlib based developments indicate that Turkish-Russian relations will go through the hoop in the upcoming period.

Another possible outcome is closely associated with the policy that Russia and Assad will pursue within the context of PYD-YPG/PKK. The attitudinising and petitions of the above-mentioned terrorist group regarding liaising with Assad in Idlib as well the response of Russia and Iran to these demands is yet another important aspect in the forthcoming course.

In the case of a possible cooperation between Russia and PYD-YPG/PKK in Idlib, the conclusion would be indifferent to the concurrence of the US with the same group against DAESH/ISIS. In an environment where the Russians are aware of Turkey’s rebuttal, such act will be noted as a significant mistake.

In this context, in addition to the above-mentioned situations, possible reasons for the crisis in Turkish-Russo relations in the forthcoming period can be listed as follows:

  1. Determining the zone of influences in “New Syria”;
  2. The desire of Russia to establish an influence in the region including Northern Syria which could threaten Turkey’s security and lead to numerous “undesirable” results;
  3. The development of an attitude that favours Assad and Iran in Syria;
  4. The Iranian crisis and the policy that Turkey will pursue in this context.

Why is Russia Signalling a Policy Change?

The most fundamental matter underlying Moscow’s recent policy change towards Ankara is the “confusion” in Turkish-US relations and the “trust question” that follows.

When the incident is handled in an elaborate way, the following expressions recur: 1) Continued suspicion against Turkey; 2) Regardless the outlast of the occurrences in Turkish-US relations there is yet to be a severance; 3) Military relations of Turkey with the US and the NATO not falling through; 4) The initiation of cooperation between the US and Turkey in Munbic; 5) The need to evoke the importance Turkish-Russo bilateral cooperation.

Such issues only come to fore in the Turkish dimension. In other words, Russia is harbouring these pretexts. However, the experiences point to a different conclusion which can be listed as 1) The US and Russian have agreed on partitioning the Middle-East; 2) The desire to salve Iran in Syria; 3) The dissatisfaction of Russia by the fact that Turkey has expanded its zone of influence through a policy based on balance and multidimensionality.

What Could Transpire if Russia Alters its Policy?

As mentioned numerous times, Turkey and Russia form the backbone of the Astana Process. This is also the reason for the situation in Syria to take a different course, which has put the US and Israel in a difficult position.

Therefore, a single miscalculation by Moscow would end the Astana Process. This would debilitate Turkey as well as Russia against the US, which in return would lead numerous destabilisations within Russia’s immediate vicinity. A Russia, at odds with Turkey means that it would lose out Iran as well as other regions too.

Therefore, the greatest desire is that Russia does not stumble into the same error the US has fallen into. This is because the normalisation process initiated between Turkey and Russia on the 27th of July, which evolved into a de facto alliance in Astana was mainly due to the wrong-doings and predilections of the US.

At the forefront of those who are aware of this case are the Russians. It should not be forgotten that the spirit of Astana is the insurance of the region. It is better to remain faithful to the congruity agreed on 27th of July. Otherwise, the region will be in catastrophe altogether!