The Free Trade Agreement resulted from Turkey’s careful diplomacy, its participation in the Crimea Platform last year, and its willingness to significantly increase joint defense projects with Ukraine in the face of Russian threats. Ukraine will gain technology transfers from Turkey and unlimited access to production of corvettes and drones, like the Bayraktar UAV that the Ukrainian army used on 26 October 2021 to destroy a howitzer battery that had fired on Ukrainian positions in the south of the Donetsk Region. The Russian Foreign Ministry was quick to complain about Turkey’s arms sales to Ukraine, but nevertheless, a memorandum was signed during last week’s visit to establish a joint production, maintenance and training center. Equally importantly, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense has ordered new Turkish-made Ada class corvettes, warships known for their maneuverability. Acquiring these ships will radically strengthen the combat capabilities of Ukraine’s Navy to enhance security in the Black and Azov Seas. Credible rumors suggest the possible sale of a mini-submarine, that Turkey will join the production of Antonov AN-178 military transport aircraft, and that Turkey will invest in the strategically important Ukrainian engine manufacturer Motor Sich, maker of turbine engines, including those for military aviation.
Turkey has been the latest in a series of countries attempting to step into the standoff between Russia and Ukraine. What sets the Turkish position apart?
Turkey's attempt to position itself as a mediator between Russia and Ukraine is a worthy goal, and possibly a maneuver to soften the Russian response to Turkey’s ever increasing strategic cooperation with Ukraine. Yet this goal is nearly impossible to attain. So far, all signs suggest that Russia is only seriously willing to engage with the United States, thus demonstrating its superpower status, if that means undermining and dividing European allies.
Yet, Turkey is not just another country attempting to step into the standoff. The relationship between Russia and Turkey is deep and complex. Recent conflicts from the Caucasus mountains to the Maghreb have exposed a curious military balance, as the superiority of Turkish UAVs to Russian defenses allowed Turkey to successfully assert itself into conflicts in Libya, Syria and Nagorno-Karabakh. Russia remains a nuclear power with a superior military to Turkey’s, but time and again, Turkey has spoiled Russia’s plans. In Karabakh, for the first time in history, Russia faced an outside power intervening in the original territory of the USSR. Turkey is also the only NATO country to have downed a Russian Air Force jet: a Turkish Air Force F16 shot down a Russian Sukhoi Su-24 attack aircraft near the Syria-Turkey border on 24 November 2015. Russia doesn’t want to face Turkey in Donbas.
Add new comment