ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Russia and Turkey: Moving Closer

A series of events and shifts in geopolitics are drawing the two traditional antagonists together.

Russia and Turkey are engaged in a series of high-level contacts that is a part of efforts to maintain Istanbul’s independence from the west, a strategy that suits the interests of both countries. In February, Turkish President Abdullah Gul was in Moscow on a four-day state visit while Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is to reciprocate with a visit to Turkey soon. It is apparent that Russia is seeking ways to shift the balance of power in the region away from the United States (US). Russia sees opportunity in the newly strained relations between Turkey and the west to push ahead with a foreign policy plan that would give it greater influence over Eurasia.

In the aftermath of the cold war, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) is no longer significant for Turkey. The country has been more enthusiastic about becoming a member of the European Union (EU) so as to establish itself in the markets in the former east European socialist countries, which have since become members of the union. With Turkey’s geographical position between energy rich central Asia and Europe, the country had the potential to become EU’s strategic energy partner. More significantly, Brussels thought it could enlist Ankara’s support in its efforts to dilute Russian control over natural gas transit routes. Turkey, in turn, thought it had greater chances of acceding to the EU by entering into a series of potential natural gas deals with the latter that would end Russian monopoly. All that, however, has not happened and with Brussels now less than enthusiastic about “Muslim” Ankara becoming a member of the EU, Turkey now apparently feels that there is more to gain by moving closer to Russia.

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