After talking a blue streak about using the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to prevent the Black Sea from turning into a “Russian lake,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s June 27 letter of “condolences” to Russian President Vladimir Putin for the downing of a Russian fighter jet took many by surprise.
Members of the small ethnic Armenian community in Turkey are feeling increasingly uneasy. Their wariness is an outgrowth of recent claims by senior officials in Ankara that Kurdish rebels collaborate with Turkish Armenians, as well as the government’s move to expropriate several Armenian churches.
The dogged feud between Turkey and Russia is threatening to resurrect an age-old rivalry over access to the Bosphorus and Dardanelles waterways. The Turkish Straits, as Turkey calls them, connect the Black Sea to international waters, and access to them has always been a flashpoint in Turkish-Russian relations.
Propaganda about ISIS oil has become Moscow’s tactical weapon of choice in the struggle over Turkey’s downing of a Russian SU-24 fighter jet. But, for now, with Turkey giving as good as it gets, the shots have not yet hit their mark.
Three days after Turkey’s November 24 downing of a Russian fighter jet, Turkish leaders seem ready for Kremlin blowback. But analysts and officials in Ankara are less sure about how the incident will impact Turkey’s relations with its allies.
Russia’s entry into the Syrian conflict is upsetting Turkey’s diplomatic ambitions. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s power play has shown that his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, lacks geopolitical leverage.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s state visit to China later this month is intended to show that Turkey, as an international power, has interests well beyond its western alliances. But Ankara’s strong backing of China’s Uighur Muslim minority clouds the prospects for Turkish-Chinese relations.