Turkey: the Game Changer

The deal between Ankara and Moscow has been signed and sealed and the first shipments of the S-400 air defence system have just landed on Turkish soil, at a military airbase located at the vicinity of the country’s capital. The second-largest NATO army is acquiring weapons and materiel from a state that by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation is viewed as inimical.

Turkey occupies an area which is bridging Europe with Asia and neighbouring some of the war-ridden countries like Iraq and Syria in the volatile region known as the Middle East. It is also strategically important for NATO because it controls the Straits between the Mediterranean and the Black Sea and because it outflanks Russia from the south. A NATO member since 1952 Turkey – although a Third World country – wanted to remain a loyal member of the Alliance with ever closer ties to the Western world. Not only did Ankara join its troops to the NATO but also lent its territory to the pact. The reader will have remembered that it was the American missiles deployed to Turkish territory which caused anxiety at the Kremlin and induced Nikita Khrushchev to retaliate by deploying Soviet missiles to Cuba, which led to the international conflict threatening to culminate in a third world war. The strained relations between the two superpowers were only eased when both the Soviets withdrew their missiles from the largest island in the Caribic and the Americans removed theirs from Turkey.

Turkey’s membership in the Alliance has never meant that Ankara was a patsy in Washington’s hands. It skilfully guarded its sovereignty and pursued its own interests. Thus in 1974 Turkish armed forces landed in Northern Cyprus, establishing there of a separate Turkish state and a permanent – as yet – division of the island predominantly inhabited by Greeks. Thus Ankara dared to thwart the interest of another NATO member – Greece – and Athens could do nothing about it. Turkey was strategically too important and that is why it could afford to act independently of NATO’s most important allies.

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France, Germany Reportedly Against New Sanctions on Russia Over Kerch Strait Row

Austria has mulled over the possibility of new sanctions against Russia due to the detention of three Ukrainian Navy vessels that sailed toward the Kerch Strait in what Moscow has described as an unequivocal provocation committed in violation of international law. At a secret meeting of the Political and Security Committee in Brussels on Tuesday, French and German diplomats spoke out against stepping up existing EU sanctions against Russia in light of the growing rift between Moscow and Kiev over the Kerch Strait incident. Source: Sputnik