https://ahvalnews.com-Turkey’s reaction to Russia launching an invasion on Ukraine on Thursday has been “timid and low-key”, due to the interdependency Ankara and Moscow have built in various fields, Turkish foreign policy expert and former member of parliament Suat Kınıklıoğlu told Ahval’s Yavuz Baydar in the latest episode of the podcast series Hot Pursuit.
“In the Council of Europe vote, Turkey abstained rather than supporting the motion to freeze Russia’s membership,” Kınıkoğlu said. “Despite much criticism from many people, including myself, Turkey has been building this interdependency with Russia on energy, trade, tourism and military defence industry cooperation.”
Combined with Vladimir Putin’s leadership, this dependency has limited Turkey’s room for manoeuvring and necessitated a low-key approach, he said. “Turkey probably will only take real action once it is clear that Ukraine or the Western alliance has the upper hand. I don’t expect anything more than sympathy and a low-key diplomatic performance at this time.”
Kınıkoğlu believes President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his government were right in their decision to sell Bayraktar TB2 UCAVs to Ukraine.
“We now see that these sophisticated weapons have an impact on the field in Ukraine’s efforts to fend off the Russian invasion,” he said.
However, Turkey is also “understandably cautious” in monitoring the situation for the reactions by NATO allies and the European Union.
Another area of interest for Turkey is the Russian presence in Syria, which will be impacted by how the Ukraine invasion turns out, Kınıkoğlu added.
“I’m sure (Syrian President Bashar al-Assad) is very nervous at the moment. If things were to turn around in the Ukraine and Russia was forced into an embarrassing retreat, it could have a very detrimental impact on Russian presence in Syria,” he said.
A direct confrontation between Russian and Turkish forces is not likely, “unless provoked by Russia”, according to the expert. “It’s too early to tell, but if Russia has to withdraw from Ukraine, there could be a lot of pressure from domestic forces in Russia.”