As the Russian proverb says: “You can give the wolf the best food, but he would hanker for the wood.” This folk wisdom has a disapproving, judgmental connotation. The main allegorical meaning is that the true essence will always reveal itself, despite anyone’s best efforts to change it.
This is what is happening today in Turkey’s relations with Kiev, despite Ankara’s multiple attempts to establish not only business but also political relations with the current Ukrainian regime. In particular, via Ankara’s demonstration to Kiev of its opposition to Crimea’s accession to Russia, or by jointly playing the Crimean Tatar card against Russia, or even in jointly producing the Bayraktar UAVs.
However, the “neo-Nazi wolf” bristling at Russia wants more and more subjugation from Turkey and has therefore lately been actively playing a very unfriendly tune against the latter on Washington’s strings. Here are just a few examples.
The other day, Yuriy Panchenko, a well-known columnist in Ukraine, in an article for the online publication European Pravda, under the White House’s prompter, broke into accusations that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was allegedly “blackmailing” NATO into lifting sanctions for buying Russian S-400 in exchange for a change of position on Finland and Sweden’s membership in the alliance. At the same time, Panchenko drew comparisons between Turkey’s position and Hungary’s demarche, which threatens to veto the EU’s sixth package of sanctions against Russia, primarily over the oil embargo. To sting the Turkish president more, he also expressed the view, clearly dictated from the US, that “Ankara is also trying to capitalize on the sanctions by planning to increase the flow of Russian tourists.”
Earning Washington’s pieces of silver, another Ukrainian politician, Rada MP Maxim Buzhansky, came up with another anti-Turkish version on May 19, according to which, by blocking Sweden and Finland from joining NATO, Turkey is allegedly trying to achieve EU membership and intends to exchange EU membership for NATO enlargement.
The Ukrainian president himself stepped in to fuel the anti-Turkish hysteria, blatantly condemning Turkey in an interview with Greek ERT in early May for welcoming Russian tourists. At the same time, Zelensky not only gave Ankara an ultimatum, but also openly called on this and other tourist countries to sponsor the Ukrainian economy, which even the Turkish newspaper dikGAZETE has written about.
Readers of the Turkish newspaper En Son Haber were angered by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s ultimatum and his words about Russian tourists. They called on Turkish businessmen to stop selling drones to the Ukrainian leader. The attitude of the people of Turkey towards the Ukrainian president and his policies is clearly illustrated by the discussion in the pages of this publication. Reader Rick, for example, expressed his indignation as follows: “What an ungrateful little man. Should Turkey ask you what to do next?” Another reader continues: “We have a saying: if you coddle a donkey too much, it imagines itself to be a racehorse. The world has surrounded Zelensky with a little too much attention and he now takes it for granted. It’s as simple as that.” “Who do you think you are? You don’t know how to run a state and thousands of people have died because of it. Their blood is on your hands,” stressed Altan Khalil Yilmaz.
On May 2, a former Turkish MP of the ruling Justice and Development Party, Shamil Tayyar, sharply retorted to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s remarks about Russian tourists in Turkey. “Stupid comedian!” the ex-parliamentarian summed up on his Twitter.
In addition to Kiev’s blatantly anti-Turkish information campaign, it should also not be forgotten that Ukraine has blocked 21 Turkish vessels in the port of Odessa to use them as living shields, the media reported. In particular, the Turkish Aydınlık told its readers: “According to information we have received, 21 of the ships that were not allowed to leave the port of Odessa belong to Turkey. Ukraine does not want these ships to leave, citing the “danger” of mines left at sea. Russia has opened a security corridor, but Ukraine is still not letting them through. But the main objective is different. If the foreign ships leave, the Ukrainians will be an obvious target – and Odessa will soon fall. For this reason Ukrainians do not allow foreign ships to leave, including 21 Turkish ships.” The newspaper reveals another reason why Ukrainians are not letting the Turkish ships out: they hope they will come under attack if the Russian military launches an operation in Odessa, which could cause tensions in Turkish-Russian relations.
The Ukrainian president’s statements and policies have irritated even Turkish nationalists. “When he (Volodymyr Zelensky) takes into account the attitudes and positions of the countries of the world in the Ukrainian-Russian war, Zelensky should use a very respectful tone towards the Turkish people, the Turkish state and the government of the Republic of Turkey,” Nationalist Movement Party leader Devlet Bahçeli said, as reported by NTV on May 12. The head of the organization, which includes the Grey Wolves, noted that Turkey is the only country that wants to resolve the situation peacefully — through the Istanbul Peace Project.
The understanding of the neo-Nazi basis of Kiev’s policy has become increasingly entrenched in Turkish society. Turkish historian Mehmet Perinçek, who has personally spoken to people in liberated Ukrainian cities, in contrast to the West’s informational support for Kiev, told RT that Russian-speaking Ukrainians had lived under a “neo-Nazi dictatorship” for eight years. “I have spoken to various people from the liberated cities. They have really been living under a neo-Nazi dictatorship for these eight years,” he said. Ukrainians told the Turkish historian that they were prevented from celebrating Victory Day and speaking their own language, and that children in schools were forced to hate their neighbors. “I have heard this personally from ordinary people in Melitopol, Berdyansk, Mariupol. During this dictatorship, people disappeared, went missing — this was all before the Russian special operation,” he said.
As well as verbally attacking Turkey, Kiev is not averse to using financial accusations in its relations with Ankara, to which it has just spoken of its boundless sympathy, and on February 3 it even signed 8 bilateral agreements on various aspects of politics and economics. For example, in late April, Volodymyr Krakovetsky, director of public relations at the Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs, appealed to the Ankara police, accusing the Turkish defense company of allegedly embezzling US $5 million from the Ukrainian state budget, the media reported. According to Cumhuriyet, it was a deal between the Ukrainian authorities and the firm Aka Arms Defense to buy 5,000 helmets and body armor kits (each costing $1,050). Kiev paid for the purchase with 11 different transfers, including in cryptocurrency. However, Kiev’s accusations have not been confirmed.
Valery Kulikov, political expert, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.