Israel are eager to avoid confrontation with Moscow over Ukraine
Under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey has had a contradictory relationship with Russia, with the two governments finding common ground in some areas even as they clash elsewhere.
Turkey, a member of NATO, voted for a U.N. General Assembly resolution condemning Russia over its actions in Ukraine, but it has not slapped sanctions on Moscow or closed its airspace to Russian aircraft.
In Libya and Azerbaijan, Turkey has supported groups fighting Russian-backed forces. But Erdogan and Putin have forged a friendly relationship, and Turkey has bought Russian-made anti-aircraft S-400 missiles and cut energy deals with Moscow. Turkey also looks to Russia to help it maintain pressure on Kurdish groups in Syria, as Ankara fears the emergence of a Kurdish state on its border.
In Ukraine, the government in Kyiv has used Turkish-made drones to great effect against Russian armored convoys, though Ankara has not called attention to their weapons exports to Ukraine.
Turkey has labeled the Russian invasion a “war,” allowing it under the 1936 Montreux Convention to close the Bosphorus Strait — which links to the Black Sea — to warships. But the decision doesn’t mean Russia’s navy is cut off from sailing into the Black Sea.
As one of the littoral states on the Black Sea, Russia can claim the movement of ships through the area is to return to their home naval base. Turkey’s action, however, could undermine Russia’s ability to resupply its forces.
As it tries to balance between Russia, Ukraine and NATO, Ankara has emerged as a potential mediator, along with Israel, in efforts to find a negotiated settlement to the war. Erdogan has been offering to help with dialogue between Moscow and Kyiv since April last year, hosting Zelenskyy for talks and later traveling to the Russian city of Sochi in September to meet Putin. Earlier this month, Turkey hosted the first face-to-face talks between Russian and Ukrainian officials in the southern city of Antalya, where the foreign ministers discussed a possible 24-hour ceasefire.
China’s response to the war in Ukraine could shape the conflict’s outcome and the larger clash between Moscow and the West. China portrays itself as neutral on the “crisis” in Ukraine, but its state media echoes Russian propaganda and it has endorsed Moscow’s view that the war was caused by NATO’s expansion since the end of the Cold War.
For years, ties between Russia and China have steadily improved, particularly since Xi Jinping came to power. The two powers share common ground in their hostility to the United States, to democracies more broadly and to the rule-based world order created by the U.S. and its European allies after World War II. On the sidelines of the Beijing Winter Olympics, Xi and Putin declared in a joint statement that the partnership between their two countries had “no limits” and that there were no “no forbidden areas of cooperation.”