No matter how strange it may sound, Russia and Turkey are very similar, and this creates favorable conditions for their alignment. The history of both nations, the Turkic and Slavic world, is connected with Byzantium, and both have both Orthodox and Muslim roots, however, in different proportions. Even despite a history of more than three hundred years of Russo-Turkish wars, Russia and Turkey simultaneously remained partners in the spheres of economics and culture.
Both countries are united in their relationship with the West, with Europe. The Russian and Ottoman empires formed a significant part of the European political landscape for many centuries. Only at the end of the 20th century did it suddenly occur to the “wise men of the West” that the two countries are absolutely alien to Europe. As a result, today both Russia and Turkey are, as it were, parts of Greater Europe, but not the West. Europe, having taken a lot from Russia and Turkey, including culture, decided to follow the call of its current political elite in terms of phobias, closing off the unifying pan-European processes from both Moscow and Ankara. And a clear example of this is the increased rejection of Turkey’s membership in the EU. And that despite the fact that Turkey has been a member of the Council of Europe since its founding in 1949 and, thanks to the Association Agreement between the EEC and Turkey signed on September 12, 1963, has been an “associate member” of the European Union since 1964.
It is through the efforts of the “career sitters” of Brussels that both Russia and Turkey are classified as European “non-West,” for one reason or another they have not become “full-fledged representatives of the West,” and are underrepresented, not included in the Western establishment. It is precisely through these “efforts” of Brussels that both Moscow and Ankara are now made to look as kinds of outcasts of the West: they aren’t wanted in Western organizations, and their image in the minds of Europeans is created by stereotypes of the past and European phobias. But this doesn’t prevent the “collective West” from trying to use both Moscow and Ankara for their own selfish interests in this or that situation.
All this forces Turkey and Russia to look for approaches to one another, to become closer. And the last decade has shown that there are huge possibilities for partnership between these two countries. Turkey’s interest in an alliance with Moscow, which supplies it with energy, is all the stronger the more Turkey feels rejected by the European Union. As a result, after many centuries, both states achieved a real partnership, economic and energy ties began to be actively established, agreements were reached on the Caucasus, with Russia and Turkey having common foreign policy initiatives. The state of Russian-Turkish relations over the past 10 years has been a real strategic breakthrough. As the heads of both countries have repeatedly noted, over this period the volume of economic ties has increased more than 30-fold. Russia became Turkey’s number one economic partner. Each visit by the political leaders of these nations deepens the level of relations.
The rapprochement between the positions of Ankara and Moscow has further intensified against the backdrop of provocative steps by the West to expand NATO to the east and the intention to accept Sweden and Finland into the alliance. As Turkish historian Mehmet Perinçek pointed out recently, the United States and NATO have a project directed against countries with a powerful army and economy, namely Russia, Turkey, China, and Iran. “These countries act as barriers to US plans, so Washington wants to eliminate them. For this reason, Turkey and Russia are on the same front. Consequently, Moscow and Ankara must cooperate to protect their national interests. If we consider this issue from Ankara’s point of view, then it needs to balance the threat of Washington only in cooperation with other European countries suffering from US aggression. First of all, with Russia. Therefore, Erdogan’s statement is very correct: NATO expansion is not only a problem for Moscow,” he said in an interview with RIA Novosti.
On May 17 the Turkish newspaper Yeni Şafak reported: “President Tayyip Erdogan invited Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom he phoned, to Turkey for a high-level business meeting.” The ground for further rapprochement between the two countries was prepared during a meeting between a Russian government delegation headed by Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Alexander Novak on May 18 with representatives of the Turkish departments responsible for economic issues. The focus, as specified, was the assessment of Turkey’s investment opportunities, the resolution of the transport problem, and increase in the volume of bilateral trade (which was $33.025 billion in 2021). In the future, Russia and Turkey may enter into the joint development of new, more technologically sophisticated industries, such as shipbuilding, the aviation industry and astronautics, pharmaceuticals, and collaborate on digital and energy-efficient technologies.
A significant window for the development of bilateral cooperation was the withdrawal of a number of foreign manufacturers due to sanctions imposed by the West on the Russian domestic market. As a result, Russia and Turkey began to actively discuss the replacement of outgoing foreign brands with Turkish enterprises. This was reported by the newspaper Hürriyet with reference to remarks by Dmitry Moskalenko, president of the Russian Council of Shopping Centers, who stressed that this autumn about 3 million square meters of retail space in the Russian retail sector will become vacant. “For Turkish brands that are not yet in Russia, we provide an opportunity to get acquainted with the best shopping centers, starting with Moscow. We are negotiating so that Turkish companies stay in Russia for a long time and make profitable investments,” Hürriyet quotes Dmitry Moskalenko as saying. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said not too long ago that Russia is “against any manifestation of neo-colonialism.”
In Russia, today there is a real economy that has not only survived the yoke of sanctions, but continues to further develop. And Western business circles that left the Russian market, which is very profitable for them, and have lost their former positions here have turned out to be the victims of the sanctions policy imposed by Washington and its allies. Russia is far from the obsolete transatlantic bloc thinking and is today forming the preconditions for the future, all against the backdrop of the destruction created by the West. Therefore, for Russia’s faithful allies, huge financial and business opportunities are opening up here today. And Turkey, demonstrating its loyalty, intends to actively use this “window of opportunity.”
Vladimir Odintsov, political observer, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.