In an analysis by Fehim Tastekin published on Duvar Daily on July 10, 2023, the recent diplomatic moves of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the complex relationship between Ukraine, Russia, and NATO have raised speculation about the motives behind his actions. As Erdoğan adopts a “grasshopper strategy,” engaging with both Western allies and Russian leader Vladimir Putin, questions arise regarding the potential impact on regional dynamics and the ongoing Ukraine conflict.
Tastekin, in his analysis on Duvar Daily, highlights that while Erdoğan claims to maintain a balanced and fair stance, his approach lacks consistency and stability, often relying on opportunistic maneuvers rather than decisive leadership. The author notes that Putin is aware of Erdoğan’s pro-NATO tendencies, exploiting any divisions within the Western alliance. However, Putin anticipates that Turkey will eventually withdraw its opposition to Sweden’s NATO membership, as Finland recently did.
The analysis also discusses the unpredictable nature of Erdoğan’s actions, where he criticizes Russia before attempting to mend the relationship. This pattern continues before the upcoming Vilnius summit, which holds significance for the deadlock over Sweden’s membership and commitments regarding Ukraine.
Tastekin emphasizes that observers are closely watching Erdoğan’s trilateral meeting with Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, relying on Erdoğan’s pragmatic personality to help resolve ongoing issues.
Regarding Ukraine, Erdoğan’s public endorsement of Ukraine’s deserving NATO membership during Zelensky’s visit to Istanbul is seen as an attempt to score points with President Joe Biden, who has been hesitant about Ukraine’s NATO accession. However, Biden has emphasized the lack of unanimity among allies in bringing Ukraine into the alliance amidst an ongoing war.
The author highlights that the United States prefers to offer future membership promises to Ukraine while supporting its fight against Russia with Western weapons. Erdoğan’s seemingly blank check to Ukraine may have caused more irritation in the White House than in the Kremlin.
Tastekin also addresses the violation of a prisoner exchange agreement by Erdoğan, allowing the return of five Azov Battalion commanders to Ukraine, contrary to the agreement. The Kremlin expressed surprise, stating that Russia was not informed of the decision.
The consequences of Erdoğan’s actions remain uncertain, but Tastekin notes that he appears confident that there will be no repercussions, as he announced Putin’s planned visit to Turkey in August during a phone call with Zelensky. The interpretation of Erdoğan’s gestures by Russian officials indicates a mixed response.
As Erdoğan attends the Vilnius summit, where pressures from Sweden are expected, the analysis concludes that the long-term implications of his diplomatic maneuvers on Ukraine-Russia relations and the broader regional dynamics are difficult to predict given the complex nature of the ongoing conflict.