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In Trump’s conflict with Erdogan, Putin wins

Turkey and Russia are faced with yet another manifestation of political American pressure through sanctions.


During the latest Russian-Turkish talks, the question arose about stopping the use of the US dollar for mutual settlements.

It should be noted that until recently in the American media, Russia was presented as a “local power”.

Now they are talking about it as an equal competitor for influencing Eurasia. It is in this context that the possibility of a Russian-Turkish rapprochement is assessed.

As you know, the US administration demanded from the Turkish authorities the release of US citizen Pastor Andrew Branson, accused by the Ankara authorities of anti-state activities.

Americans believe that the pastor is being held hostage to pressure Washington to handover Fetulla Gulen, who is accused of organising an upheaval two years ago.

This Muslim preacher now resides in the United States. The Americans are refusing to extradite him to Turkey.

After the refusal by Turkey to release Pastor Branson, the Americans imposed personal sanctions against Turkish ministers of Justice and Internal Affairs.

US President Donald Trump ordered an increase in import duties of more than half on steel and aluminum from Turkey.

This led to a significant fall in the value of the Turkish currency. The Turkish lira depreciated immediately by 25%.

It should be noted, however, that Turkey’s financial problems began before the sanctions.

Since the beginning of the year, the lira has fallen by 45%, and the price of Turkish stocks have collapsed.

If Turkey succeeds in stabilising the economic situation now, some political benefit can be drawn from the current situation.

Economic and financial difficulties can be associated with sanctions from outside but cannot dent a leader’s internal support.

However, for example, the leader of Venezuela, Nicholas Maduro, blaming external forces in all the misfortunes, failed to stop the hyperinflation that is now setting records in the country.

The situation in Turkey today is much more stable. Nevertheless, sanctions may have a significant impact on the Turkish economy in the future. The fact is that 30% of the Turkish GDP is debts in foreign currency.

With current trends, Turkey will begin to experience payment difficulties.

The dependence of the Turkish economy on investment and international markets does not give grounds for believing that Ankara will be able to withstand a long-term sanctions war with the United States.

Russia showed strength and steadfastness, despite all the gloomy forecasts, when sanctions were imposed against it.

Now they are talking about the fact that Turkey and Russia will start acting together against American pressure.

This scenario is quite logical at the moment. Between the two countries there are developed trade relations, huge projects in the energy and gas spheres. It is possible to expand cooperation in all these areas.

However, is it possible to “oust” the United States from the Turkish market while replacing it with an alliance with Russia?

To understand the complexity of the current situation with Turkey, it is worth turning to the example of Iran.

As you know, Russia has done a lot to lift sanctions against Iran. However, right after the international agreement three years ago, Russian companies were quite disappointed.

Tehran attracted many of the largest Western concerns, and there was almost no room for Russia.

Perhaps there now regret it, when dozens of the largest partners hastened to declare their resignation in connection with the American sanctions.

This does not cancel the possible contracts between Moscow and Ankara now.

Specific steps towards rapprochement and cooperation will determine the intentions of the Turkish government.

It is appropriate to recall the crisis in relations between Turkey and Germany only a year and a half ago.

Do you remember how Erdogan accused Angela Merkel of “Nazi methods” towards the Turks?

This was said in connection with the obstacles that the authorities in Germany were repairing in holding in their country a referendum among the citizens of Turkey about turning it into a presidential republic.

It is characteristic that the relations between Ankara and the European Union, and especially Germany, deteriorated sharply when Deniz Yücel, correspondent of the German newspaper Die Welt, was arrested on suspicion of promoting terrorism.

Then, too, there were accusations of participation in the coup. Just like now. And all ended with an economic transaction.

Erdogan is an undoubted master of “playing on the verge of foul”. So, he used the “refugee card” to get money from the European Union.

However, these methods proved to be ineffective during the crisis in relations with Russia. There everything ended with an apology from Erdogan.

Anyway, we cannot exclude Turkey’s deal with the US after a few weeks of passion.

There is a fear that some people in Ankara will simply try to use Russia now in the current confrontation of Trump.

Even if this is so, the situation that has arisen can give Russia a certain advantage. However, it is worth really assessing what is happening.

Strategic thinking requires not only an awareness of situational benefits, but also a perspective. In what areas can Moscow and Ankara today be considered as allies? What are the political interests?

Yes, Russia and Turkey are interested in changing the international climate.

You can find several more reciprocal vectors. Perhaps the interests of the parties will be more important than unresolved contradictions (which are also many).

Perhaps, American sanctions will contribute to Russia’s historical rapprochement with Turkey.

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