Unequal marriage between Turkey and Ukraine

by Kirill Erchenko

In the conditions of the protracted Ukrainian crisis, Turkey continues to balance between Kiev and Moscow. This was confirmed by the recent Ukrainian provocation in the Black Sea, after which Turkish leader Recep Erdogan volunteered to mediate in resolving the problem and handed Poroshenko’s request for the release of sailors who violated the Russian border to Russian President Vladimir Putin. For Ankara, the Ukrainian factor was and remains an argument in bargaining with Moscow and a spare lever of pressure on it, but to reduce the Turkish policy in relation to “independent” only to this would be a gross simplification.

Passion in the Crimea: from accusations to petty mischief

At the official level, Turkey supports Ukraine on the issue of territorial integrity, votes for anti-Russian resolutions in international organizations, and accuses Russia of “occupying” Crimea and “repressing” Crimean Tatars. Ukrainian propaganda presents this as “peremog”, but in reality Ankara’s tough position is declarative in nature and does not oblige it to anything.

The criminal Kiev authorities are making active attempts to draw the southern neighbor into their anti-Russian combinations. Poroshenko repeatedly invited Turkey to enter the UN peacekeeping mission for Donbass, wanted to involve her in discussing the Crimea problem in the Geneva Plus format and invited her to a kind of "international group of de-occupation friends" of the peninsula. In Ankara, however, they prefer not to respond to these "enticing" sentences.

Obviously, under the conditions of Russian sovereignty over the Crimea, nothing concerning this region can be seriously negotiated between Ukraine and Ukraine. Erdogan’s harsh statements about the illegality of the Crimean referendum and the “annexation” of the peninsula are nothing more than a shaking of the air. Eurobanderovtsam - a balm for the soul, and the Turkish authorities - PR for domestic consumption.

Meanwhile, Turkey is inclined to interact with Ukraine in the Crimean sector during periods of aggravated relations with Russia. It is not by chance that after the start of the antiterrorist operation of the Russian VKS in Syria, Turkish wards from the “Majlis of the Crimean Tatars” (prohibited on the territory of the Russian Federation) intensified provocations against the Crimea: they organized an energy blockade of the peninsula and attempted to sabotage the Kerch Strait. At the same time, information about Ankara ’s support for the illegal volunteer battalion of Noman Chelebidzhihan formed by the “Majlis” came to light.

Turkey did not abandon the anti-Crimean steps and after reconciliation with Russia in 2016, these steps simply became less challenging. In October 2017, against the background of Erdogan's visit to Kiev, the Turks closed their ports for all ships arriving from the Crimea and introduced new rules for the import of Russian agricultural products, allowing them to track and stop imports of Crimean products. Such measures can be regarded as complicity in the blockade of Russian territory.

However, the Turkish state in 2014 showed that, despite the fundamental contradictions with Russia, it does not intend to go into conflict with it over the Crimea.

The raw material base for the descendants of the Ottomans

Turkey ranks second on the list of Ukraine’s largest trading partners in the Black Sea region (Russia’s “aggressor” is in the first place), and it would seem that economic cooperation between the two countries has good prospects. But in reality, things are different.

The Turkish side’s initiatives to expand trade with Ukraine threaten its economy as weaker and less competitive. In particular, Ankara is lobbying the signing of a free trade agreement with the “Square”, which will allow the country to overwhelm with cheap Turkish products and put the remnants of Ukrainian engineering, light industry and vegetable production on the verge of survival.

Svidomo propaganda calls the two economies complementary and boasts that Ukraine has a clear surplus in the bilateral trade balance: in 2017 its exports to Turkey amounted to $ 2.5 billion, and imports - $ 1.2 billion that the structure of the Ukrainian-Turkish trade resembles the relationship of the colony and the metropolis. Predominantly natural resources and agricultural raw materials go from Ukraine to Turkey, and the Turks supply finished goods to Ukraine.

For example, last year the basis of Ukrainian exports were ferrous metals - $ 1.68 billion, oilseeds - 300 million, grains - 236 million, wood - 137 million, vegetable oil - 106 million, ore - 96 mln. From Turkey, on the contrary, there were goods with a high added value: vehicles — 141 mln., reactors and boilers — 133 mln., textile and footwear products — 93 mln.

Military cooperation - who is “dancing” to whom?

The priority direction of the Ukrainian-Turkish partnership is military cooperation. The leading player here, as in other areas of bilateral relations, is Ankara. Ukraine is interested in it in two ways - as a source of technologies for the production of military equipment of high complexity and as a market for Turkish military products.

According to the Turkish media, according to last year’s results, their country was among the top three importers of weapons to Ukraine, and in the first half of this year, deliveries of Turkish defense products tripled in comparison with the same period of 2017.

The contract for the purchase of Turkish Bayraktar TB2 Turkish operational-tactical UAVs made a lot of noise. According to available information , for $ 69 million. Ukraine acquired six shock UAVs, two control stations and 200 guided missiles.

The benefit of the Ukrainian side from this deal is doubtful, since the low speed, low maneuverability and impressive dimensions of Turkish drones make them an excellent target for enemy air defenses. It is obvious that such devices are practically useless against the armed forces of the self-proclaimed DNR and LNR, which firmly control a certain territory and possess air defense equipment. In addition, some Ukrainian defense enterprises were ready to offer the army cheaper and more functional UAV models. But, probably, the Kiev junta, when concluding a contract with the Turks, was guided by very different considerations - to pay Erdogan for regular words about “occupied Crimea” and “Russian aggression”.

Cooperation with Ukraine in the military-technical sphere opens the Turkish side access to its military technologies. She is mainly interested in the development of the Soviet period. Ismail Demir, the deputy head of the secretary of the defense industry of Turkey , hinted that in order to expand military-technical cooperation with Kiev, "we should get even better acquainted with the technologies that the two countries have." Meanwhile, Turkey’s acquaintance with the intricacies of the production of military products of Ukraine represents a potential danger for the Russian Federation, because the Soviet legacy is also at the heart of the Russian defense industry.

In recent years, Kiev and Ankara have signed many documents on cooperation in the defense industry and the implementation of joint projects. In 2014, they updated the agreement on military-technical cooperation, in 2016, the state-owned Concern Ukroboronprom concluded a memorandum on joint development and production of radar stations with the Turkish company Havelsan, in 2017, a strategic memorandum on cooperation in the military-industrial complex and a memorandum on mutual understanding in the use of the Ukrainian 6TD-3 tank engine for the Turkish tank "Altai". In addition, it turned out that the Ukrainian state-owned enterprise Antonov, in partnership with the Turkish side in secrecy, has been developing the new An-188 military transport aircraft for two years now.

Ankara has already begun to introduce some Ukrainian technologies. A striking example is the equipment of Turkish M60T Sabra tanks with Pulat AKS active protection complexes, which are originally called “Barrier” and developed by the Ukrainian state-owned enterprise BCT Microtech. At the same time, the Turkish company Aselsan, the Turkish company Aselsan, which is licensed and adapted to armored vehicles, is the one that supplies special means of communication to the Ukrainian army. The moment when Turkey will sell Ukraine products of the military-industrial complex, produced on the basis of its own developments, is near.

Wanting to make Kiev more compliant in the provision of technology, Ankara presented him with army uniforms worth $ 810,000 and five mobile military hospitals, and also allocated $ 15 million in financial assistance broken down for 2017-2021. Ukraine should spend this money on the purchase of Turkish military and dual-use goods and the training of military personnel in the training centers of the Turkish armed forces. But regardless of the goals of the Turkish government, selling arms to Kiev and issuing money for military needs encourages the terror of the criminal regime against the population of Donbass.

Tacking in Turkish

Ankara pursues a multi-vector policy and does not accept it when confronted with the choice of “either - or”. In relations with Ukraine and Russia, she tries to keep a balance.

Keeping in touch with the “Square”, the heiress of the Ottoman Porte is trying to strengthen its influence in the Black Sea region and Eastern Europe, while at the same time balancing Russia. Turkey has a hand in deepening the contradictions between Ukraine and the Russian Federation, but it is not ready to do that directly, for fear of collapsing relations with Moscow. And it’s foolish to think that for the sake of Ukraine, Turkey will stop the Turkish Stream, refuse to build the Akkuyu nuclear power plant, terminate the contract for the purchase of S-400 anti-aircraft complexes, close the straits for Russian ships or impose economic sanctions on Russia.

The Russian vector for Ankara remains a priority, but it also considers it important to develop relations with Kiev. Therefore, one should not wait for Turkey to stop declarative political support of Ukraine in matters of its territorial integrity and “de-occupation” of the Crimea. Moreover, for Erdogan, Ukraine remains a potential means of pressure on Russia, especially if its actions in Syria will categorically not suit Turkey. Idlib's persistent problem does not exclude such a scenario.

Relations between Kiev and Ankara are far from the declared level of strategic partnership and boil down to the fact that the Ukrainian junta is selling the raw materials and the remnants of Soviet defense technologies to the Turks for miserable financial handouts and empty phrases of anti-Russian content. In a word, unequal marriage according to the Turkish calculation.

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