How will the Turkish presidential election affect support for Ukraine in the war with russia?
Turkey has made a significant contribution to supporting Ukraine in the wake of russia's armed aggression. Find out more about how Erdogan's victory/loss could affect relations with Ukraine and whether we should expect further assistance
Turkey's position on military operations on the territory of Ukraine is a matter of debate. After all, President Recep Erdogan stopped russian warships and prevented them from crossing the Bosphorus into the Black Sea, thus fulfilling the Montreux Convention. He played a significant role in concluding and maintaining the "grain deal". It has repeatedly called the Crimean Peninsula illegally annexed from Ukraine and has provided the Ukrainian Armed Forces with "Bayraktar drones" and dozens of Kirri armored vehicles.
But at the same time, Turkey has not yet supported sanctions measures against russia and does not plan to do so in the future. Ships with stolen Ukrainian grain have tried to pass through its waters. And russian oligarchs under sanctions still freely use Turkish waters to move their yachts.
This is also influenced by the myths about Ukraine's history propagated by the russian authorities. Read about how russia distorts the facts and tries to rewrite the past of the Ukrainian people in our article.
Thus, the attitude of Ukrainians towards the Turkish leader is ambiguous. Thus, according to a poll conducted in 2022, only 42% of Ukrainian citizens trust Erdogan, while 47% expressed distrust.
How did relations between Ankara and Kyiv develop before the war in Donbas?
The partnership of strategic importance between Ukraine and Turkey began around 2011, when the gross domestic product of the latter tripled. According to published IMF calculations, it rose from $315 billion to $957 billion. In the same year, Erdogan visited Ukraine and participated in the creation of the High Level Strategic Council, which was to be held annually.
At that time, the issues of joint hydrocarbon production in the Black Sea, construction of gas storage facilities and a liquefied natural gas terminal, and even joint exploration were repeatedly raised.
However, it is important to note that efforts to develop economic and strategic relations before 2013 largely failed, as the policies of former President Viktor Yanukovych did not resonate with Erdogan.
What changes have occurred in relations between Ukraine and Turkey since the beginning of the conflict with russia?
The occupation of Crimea became the basis for dramatic changes in relations between the two countries. Turkey has condemned the actions of the russian federation and has repeatedly expressed support for Ukraine during votes in various international organizations.
However, despite its statements, Ankara has begun to build up economic relations with russia, and today the country is heavily dependent on russian energy resources. Therefore, after Erdogan was declared president, the competition for Turkey's favor between the aggressor country and Ukraine began.
The year 2014 is marked as a point of no return, as it became clear that for national and regional security and deterrence of russian aggression, Ukraine and Turkey should become defense partners. A point of balance was found in this matter, as Ankara had financial and production capabilities, and Kyiv had a scientific base, engineering solutions, and technological developments.
From 2019 to 2022, Ukraine made some progress in economic, cultural, and military cooperation with Turkey:
● Signing of a joint agreement on a free trade zone with 95% duty zeroing;
● Regular growth of trade volumes (on both sides);
● Granting the Tomos to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church;
● Purchase of Bayraktar drones and the beginning of discussions on further cooperation to open drone production in Ukraine;
● Establishment of a joint venture for the production of high-precision weapons (Akini drones with Ukrainian engines).
In 2020, Ankara finally became one of Ukraine's main partners in national security.
How might Turkey's political stance on the war in Ukraine and russia in general change after the elections?
Experts say that Ukrainians should not expect significant changes in Turkey's policy. After all, even if the oppositionist Kemal Kilicdaroglu wins the election, who won 44.88% of the vote in the first round, the country's basic economic and political strategy will remain unchanged. This is because in countries like Turkey, with a long history and long traditions, governments may change, but the logic of governance remains the same.
However, analysts predict that if opposition forces come to power, relations between Turkey and the West, including the US, EU, and NATO, are expected to improve. This will undoubtedly increase support for Ukraine and criticism of the russian federation.
Earlier, we wrote that Ukraine's membership in NATO has been the subject of heated debate for years. Read what Ukraine should expect and what steps it needs to take to join the alliance here.
If Erdogan wins, experts do not predict any political changes in relation to Ukraine and russia.
In addition, the issue of Crimea is important, because when Ukrainian forces launch a counteroffensive, fighting is likely to unfold on the peninsula. And the policy of Erdogan and the country's opposition representatives is aimed at supporting the Crimean Tatars.
Today, Ankara is not ready to raise the issue of liberating the occupied Crimea by military means, and is actively advocating for a diplomatic settlement. Therefore, it is very difficult to predict the reaction and further actions of the Turkish authorities. Experts have come to a single conclusion on this issue - the country will not take any part in military operations on both sides of the conflict.
We remind you! The Ukrainian authorities do not hide the fact that preparations for the Armed Forces' counteroffensive are almost complete, and only some equipment and weapons are missing. In this article, we will tell you what the results of Zelenskyy's three-day European tour have been and what the EU countries will provide for Ukraine.
Photo: AP Newsroom
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