Russia is the most important and the most powerful state in Turkey’s immediate neighborhood today, as it has been for several centuries. Turkey’s “strategic significance” is mainly due to its role as one of the few critical states that can slow, obstruct, and stop the southern expansion of Russian influence. It is indisputable that for the previous three hundred years, from roughly 1700 until 1991, Russia (and subsequently the Soviet Union) was the most immediate security threat for and the archenemy of the Ottoman Empire and post-Ottoman Turkey. The most devastating defeats the Ottoman army ever suffered were almost all against the Russian Empire, culminating in the disastrous treaties of Küçük Kaynarca (1774), Edirne (1829), San Stefano and Berlin (1878). Suffice it to remember that almost every Balkan state, including Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, and Montenegro, won its independence as a result of direct Russian military intervention against the Ottoman Empire in support of secessionist rebellions among some Christians in the Balkans.
Toward a Turkish-Russian Axis? Conflicts in Georgia, Syria, and Ukraine, and Cooperation over Nuclear Energy
This article analyzes Turkish-Russian relations since the end of the Cold War (1992-2014) from a neorealist perspective, while highlighting relevant analogies and major turning points. Georgia (2008), Syria (2011--), and Ukraine (2014--) crises have has been detrimental for the two countries, mutual economic interests with strategic significance, such as the increasing importance of Turkey as a potential reseller of Russian natural gas, have sustained a high level of cooperation between the two countries.
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