Is The Moscow-Ankara Axis Forming?
It seems like coming to an end 2017 will be significant in the sense of the change of the geopolitical situation in Eurasia. Of course, it will change all the global landscape. Recent events on the international stage show an unthinkable before dynamic rapprochement between Russia and Turkey. Two seemingly eternal military, religious and political foes that only a short time ago had stayed on the edge of a total diplomatic break after an incident with Russian bomber not only concluded a standstill truce but also showed off an amazing "boost" in almost all the spheres of cooperation.
Of course, such a move was pointed out by an army of political experts and analysts. However, the overwhelming majority of them shows a surprising short view in an attempt to explain new Russian-Turkish phenomenon drawing the conclusions about recent events from the personal characteristics of Erdogan. They say, faced with Western rejection of his authoritarian methods Erdogan has made a demonstrative but temporary curve towards Russia and he will turn his back on Russia if he sees any positive signal from the side of the EU or the USA. Anyway, there's a number of things making us think that the priorities' change of the official Ankara is of a long-term character.
First, though all his dictatorial dispositions, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been staying an exceptional pragmatist. This statement can be proved for example with his position towards the integration of Turkey into the EU. If someone hasn't heard about it, the idea to include the Republic of Turkey into the structure of the united Europe has been essential or even a worldview one for Ankara for many decades. Since the times of Mustafa Kemal the biggest part of Turkish intellectual, military and political elite has considered itself as a part of the European civilization. Turkey has been having a status of an associated member of the EU since 1964 and a formal call was sent out back in 1987. Just think over, the Turks has waited for 30 years when their European intentions are appreciated. What's the result anyway? Two continental key stakeholders Germany and France have been going against this whatever their political agendas' changes. Having carried out an unsuccessful multicultural experiment, Germany is still afraid of the uncontrolled growth of the Turkish diaspora. France traditionally finds out a reason to talk about the violations of the human rights masking a visceral dislike towards a country with big population and promising economy.
What's the result of the Turkish "eurointegration" for today? Being a realist Erdogan decided not to hide the head in the sand and avowed loud and clear the fact that the EU was a Christian private club where Turkey would never be allowed to enter. Consequently, isn't worth a try. Think over, it has been the first time for three decades when a Turkish political leader has rejected the general line in foreign policy being before a constant of the entire national foreign policy! However, the nature doesn't like emptiness and the yawning abyss on the Western direction has to be compensated with anything. And we see the ship of the Turkish foreign policy unhesitatingly charting a course towards the North.
Second, a crisis in the relationships between Ankara and NATO was observed during many years. It came to an end with a loud and repugnant scandal at the military exercises in Norway when images of Turkish political leaders including Atatrk were used as targets. But that malicious insult made by military allies was just a little joke in comparison with a case happened in 2015. The fact is that despite of the Turkish military forces' size (the 2nd place among NATO members) there's a significant gap in the defenses of the country. I'm referring to the absence of a modern multi-layered air defence (AD). All the attempts of Ankara to buy from the American partners some "Patriot" surface-to-air missile systems failed due to a profound unwillingness of the USA. The unwillingness to arm with modern defensive weapons the "friends" on whose territory Americans have a huge strategically important Incirlik Air Base has been masked for a long time by a rhetoric that the secure sky above Turkey is guaranteed by American and German "Patriots" located in the country. On prolonging for Americans the permission to use the Air Base in 2015, Turks were surprised with the knowledge that the "guarantors" decided to remove the systems from the combat duty on a unilateral basis! If we say that the confidence towards the partners was disturbed we won't say anything. Taking in account that the Alliance's legal basis didn't stipulate for an obligatory engagement of allies, if one of the members was attacked, leaving this decision at the disposal of the national governments, the Turks were forced to think over about the status of Russia. They asked themselves: "What's Russia for us: a strategic foe or a strategic ally?" The signing of a contract of the newest Russian SA-21 "Growler" systems' delivery against the background of the previously concluded agreements with Moscow about the energy products transporting and the development of atomic energetics made it clear what decision had been taken the Turkish part. The fact is that Russian "Growlers" which are essentially incompatible in a united NATO AD system practically mean a start of a long-term cooperation (personnel training and utilities' delivery) as well as the projecting of a national layered Air Defence system with an extensive attraction of Russian defense industry which is capable to offer a great variety of surface-to-air missile systems.
Thus, we become eyewitnesses of Turkish radical geopolitical curve towards Russia. The contracts that have already been signed are significant if they are prolonged for at least about 50 years. However there's an absolute assurance that Russia won't reject the Turkish partners as it has been done by America and Europe.
Annotation: The text is about the geopolitical re-orientation of Turkey towards Russia in consequence of a confidence crisis to the Western partners.