Putin and Erdogan

Keeping Turkey on the Right Side of the Battle between US and Russia

Recent revelations of deepening Russo-Turkish economic ties despite the Ukraine war forces the U.S. to reckon with Russia’s wider strategy.

The Kremlin’s strategic objective in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea since the late 2000s has been to reorient Turkey, peeling it from the Atlantic Alliance and shifting it to the Russian camp.

The U.S. can no longer afford to ignore the realities of geopolitics: Turkey must be returned to the Western fold. The U.S. must apply the inducements, positive and negative, necessary to ensure Turkish compliance. Most critically, it should modify the geopolitical situation to remove the incentives Russia has created for reorientation, and to support Ukraine in its liberation of the Crimean Peninsula.

The Ukraine war’s strategic prize is clear for the Kremlin. Russia sought to subjugate Ukraine and draw it into an autarkic bloc that presses NATO’s eastern flank overland. It still seeks this goal but, more immediately, it hopes to solidify a land corridor to Crimea, allowing it to project power in the Black Sea, while driving Ukraine from the Donbas region.

Geopolitically, however, the prize lies farther south. By consolidating its position in Ukraine and, by extension, in the Black Sea, Russia hopes finally to peel Turkey away from the Western camp, thereby opening an unchallenged maritime route from Sevastopol to the Eastern Mediterranean.

The reason for Russia’s desire to reverse Turkey’s political-strategic orientation is simple: As a solid member of a hostile maritime coalition — NATO — Turkey is a mortal and historic threat to Russia.

Read the rest at The Hill.

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