26.10.2022 Author: Vladimir Odintsov

Germany has strengthened Turkey’s ties with Russia

The blatantly incorrect actions of the current German government towards Russia, in particular its active support for the fascist regime in Kiev and its passivity in the events surrounding Nord Stream, have forced Moscow to look for more reliable partners, including outside the EU.

This was especially true of Russian cooperation in the gas sector, where the Scholz administration had demonstrated its utter incompetence. First in a wait-and-see approach to completing the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, then in securing warranty repairs for Siemens compressor motors for the said facility, and after that in investigating the terrorist attack on the Nord Stream pipelines in the territorial responsibility zone of the Nordic countries and identifying its perpetrators.

Under these circumstances, Germany, due to Chancellor Scholz’s personal attachment to fulfilling Washington’s every whim, has stripped itself of its priority status in Europe’s guaranteed receipt and distribution of cheap Russian gas, while condemning its citizens to the search for alternative sources of gas. And at considerably higher prices than the Russian ones. Of course, every leader has the right to build his or her own policy in their country, with a focus on priority political partners. Just as the population of a country may have their grievances and bills to pay depending on the outcome of a politician’s actions. As, for example, has already happened in Germany, where protests against Berlin’s policies have begun. The country’s Minister of Health, Karl Lauterbach, said in an ARD interview on October 16 that a large number of hospitals have already begun to close because of the ongoing energy crisis, which is also viewed very critically by the German population. After all, the people of that country will enquire for those responsible for the wave of bankruptcies that has occurred in recent months, the number of which in September has already risen by a third compared to 2021, according to an analysis by the Leibniz Institute for Economic Research (IWH, Halle).

Well, let’s leave Germany to solve its problems in a dialogue with its own population.

As for Russia, in these circumstances it was quick enough to find a more reliable gas partner than Germany, offering Ankara to become a new gas hub, also for Europe. And now Germany will have to buy Russian gas from other countries, including Turkey, for the foreseeable future, Tino Chrupalla, co-chairman of the Alternative for Germany (Alternative für Deutschland), stated on October 20. He said this is because countries such as Norway, Canada or Qatar, with which Germany is considering gas contracts, could not compensate for the gas Berlin had previously received from Russia.

Soberly assessing the considerable benefits of deepening and developing relations with Russia, Turkey, unlike Germany, is oriented towards the primordial needs of its population, not those of the United States. In particular, Turkish engineering exports to Russia have been growing strongly, increasing by 28% in the first eight months of this year alone, compared with 2021. “By the end of this year, we will have reached a record $1.2 billion worth of engineering exports to Russia,” Selim Emre Gencer, chairman of the board of the Turkish Machine Manufacturers Association, said in a speech the other day.

Earlier, Vladimir Putin said that in the current circumstances Russia has the possibility of shifting gas transit from the Nord Streams to the Black Sea region and Turkey. It is therefore not surprising that Turkish leader Tayyip Erdoğan, at a meeting of his party in the Turkish parliament the other day, declared his agreement with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to create a gas hub in Turkey and for Europe to use Russian gas already through Turkey with frank satisfaction. Having discussed this option in detail, the Russian and Turkish leaders instructed their subordinates to work quickly on the issue in order to stop the European energy crisis if possible, thereby helping the ordinary people of Europe.

For the same purposes, Turkish Minister of Treasury and Finance Nureddin Nebati told The Wall Street Journal during a visit to the US that Ankara is capable of buying and transporting oil from Russia, if necessary, without Western funding or insurance. “We need to take the necessary steps in order to supply our needs and also we need to do whatever is necessary in order to protect the interests of our country. If necessary, Turkey can buy and transport Russian oil without Western financing or insurance. In case of any sanction, Turkey has all kinds of capacity to develop the tools to adapt itself to the new situation without violating any of the sanctions,” Cumhuriyet newspaper cited excerpts from the interview on October 21.

Of course, Turkey, fearing secondary US sanctions, is trying to maneuver between the West and Russia. However, the Russian market is quite profitable for Turkey, especially since many Western brands have left Russia. It should not be forgotten either that Russia can sell energy resources at a discount, which further increases Turkey’s interest and benefit. As for the future expansion of Turkish Stream’s capacity and the transformation of Turkey into a gas hub, the idea would certainly appeal not only to Serbia or Hungary, but also to a number of other southern EU states, even though Bulgaria, with its outright anti-Russian stance, could partially block the transit of Russian gas. But the situation has been changing, as have the attitudes of many countries towards closer cooperation with Moscow in the context of the economic and energy crisis that has gripped Europe.

This rapprochement between Turkey and Russia blatantly contradicts Washington’s Russophobic policies. It is therefore not surprising that US Treasury officials have stepped up pressure on Turkey over its economic ties with Russia, demanding that Ankara take a tougher stance on Moscow. Elizabeth Rosenberg, Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes at the US Department of the Treasury, discussed with Turkish authorities Ankara’s compliance with Russian sanctions and met with the head of the Turkish Central Bank, as well as business representatives in Ankara and Istanbul. While information about these meetings, which were not public, is rather skimpy, it is nevertheless known from an official US Treasury report that Rosenberg touched on a number of topics, including sanctions and export controls imposed against Russia by a broad coalition of more than 30 countries.

However, these provocative moves by Washington are not stopping Turkey, which has become a key commercial partner for Russia in recent months.

Vladimir Odintsov, political observer, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.