Contemporary Turkish – Russian Relations from Past to Future
Threat and Cooperation: Syria in Russo-Turkish RelationsLasha Tchantouridze, Ali Askerov
In the early part of the 21st century, Turkey and Russia emerged as natural allies united around a few important issues of bilateral interest, namely, security and military navigation in the Black Sea, export of natural gas, cooperation in the energy sector, and combatting extremism. However, bilateral troubles have increased between Turkey and Russia since Moscow introduced combat troops to Syria in September 2015 and engaged in action to support the Syrian regime. Although Turkey expressed bewilderment as to the reasons of the Russian intervention in the Syrian civil war, Moscow underlined several very good reasons to side with the Assad government. The most important cause for Russian involvement is to become an important player in the Middle East and to influence the future balance of threats in the region. The current chapter seeks to explain contemporary relations between Turkey and Russia, with specific attention to the key stages in the bilateral ties that have recently oscillated between close cooperation and violent conflict. The analysis presented here is guided by the balance of threat theory. In other words, we pay attention to certain epistemological aspects of the theory in explaining foreign policy behavior of both the Republic of Turkey and the Russian Federation in matters of bilateral interests. The main argument of this chapter is that the processes in contemporary Russo-Turkish bilateral relations have been informed by threats, real or perceived, emanating from the civil war in Syria.