‘Moscow happy to EXPLOIT crisis’: Trump’s SPAT with Turkey may help Russia UNDERMINE NATO
Turkey, one of NATO’s most significant military powers, has provided Washington with logistical support for its military actions in the Middle East for years.
But Ankara maintains close ties with Russia, a nation with interests in undermining NATO’s cohesion.
Although relations between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s Erdogan have stabilised since they spiralled into crisis when Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet in 2015, the Kremlin can offer little to ease Turkey’s current economic woes.
Following US-imposed sanctions, the Turkish lira has experienced one of the sharpest falls in value in its almost 175-year history.
Frants Klintsevich, a member of the defence and security committee in Russia’s upper house of parliament, said: “Relations with Turkey are quite constructive today.
“But there’s nothing permanent in politics, anything can change.
“We’re not building illusions along with these relations.”
But Bloomberg analysts have cautioned Turkey’s economic conflict with the US could prompt Mr Erdogan to start looking for new allies.
And Russia appears ready to fill the void left by Washington.
The US has sanctioned key Turkish officials and intends to impose steep tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminium.
The punitive measures are in response to Turkey’s detention of US-born Christian evangelical pastor, Andrew Brunson, who is charged with espionage and terrorism allegations following the failed 2016 coup d’état attempt.
On Tuesday, Russia Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Russia supported doing trade with Turkey using local currency instead of dollars.
After travelling to Turkey, Mr Lavrov said: “I am confident that the grave abuse of the role of the US dollar as a global reserve currency will result over time in the weakening and demise of its role.»
Experts say these comments appeal to Erdogan, who has called for Turkish citizens to trade in their dollar reserves for Turkish lira.
Magdalena Kirchner, a senior analyst and Turkey expert at Conias Risk Intelligence, told Newsweek: “While Russia, just as Iran, is certainly not in the economic position to help Turkey out, political signals of support are important for Erdogan’s strategy to demonstrate to the Turkish public that Ankara is not isolated in standing up to Washington.
“Surely, Moscow might be happy to exploit this crisis especially as calls for boycotting iPhones could easily escalate to demands for reduced military cooperation, for example, with regard to Incirlik [Air Base] or other US-NATO facilities in Turkey at a time when Washington still doesn’t have an ambassador there.
“For NATO, but also European allies, who have limited themselves to words of caution, this means another stress test that could further undermine their trust in both the US and Turkey to seek consensus for the sake of the alliance.”