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In recent months, it’s been rather popular to talk about the various ambitions of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for his various project throughout the Middle East, and beyond.
Erdogan’s ambitions in Libya, the Mediterranean Sea, Idlib, Northern Iraq, Northeastern Syria, Nagorno-Karabakh are well known.
Another interest that appears to be forming is that Turkey now also wants Crimea – and Ukraine is somewhat willing to support it.
After Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s meeting with Erdogan in Istanbul and against the background of the Karabakh conflict in Turkey, the topic of Crimea once again resurfaced.
Despite the assurances of the Turkish president in support of the territorial integrity of Ukraine and rejection of the ‘Russian annexation’ of Crimea, in Turkey itself, and especially among nationalists and ruling elites, a dissenting opinion is widespread regarding the fate of the peninsula. They consider Crimea not Ukrainian or Russian, but Turkish. Since it was part of the Ottoman Empire until the end of the 18th century. A notable article on relations with Russia appeared on the pro-government Turkish news portal Haberler.
One quote from it was widely circulated in the Ukrainian and Russian media as the author’s text from this site:
“Erdogan does not definitely consider Crimea Russian. But at the same time, he does not consider it Ukrainian either. In Erdogan’s eyes, Crimea is a territory that was unfairly taken by Russia in 1783 by the Ottoman Empire and must be returned to the heiress of this empire – modern Turkey.”
The publication in this case cites an excerpt from an article by Russian media Moskovsky Komsomolets, the author of which expresses his opinion on Turkey’s strategy in the post-Soviet space.
Haberler cited this quote as an indication of Russia’s concern about Turkey’s actions.
“Turkey’s actions in the former Soviet Union, without looking back at Russia, have caused concern in the Russian press,” Haberler comments.
Erdogan himself never spoke out loud about the “Turkish Crimea” and none of the Turkish officials raised the question like that, but the actions of the Turkish leadership and special services say more than loud statements. Also, experts say, this topic is being discussed from time to time at an unofficial level.
Independent Turkish political analyst Mustafa Karachay told Strana.ua that the very fact that a website close to Erdogan quotes such a quote means the authorities’ approval of this trend.
“This formulation of the question fits well with Ankara’s claims to restore influence within the territory of the entire former Ottoman Empire, which helps the authorities to maintain and increase the electorate. However, so far this is only at the behind-the-scenes level, Turkey is not ready for an open conflict with Russia or Ukraine. In the future, the Crimean card may still be played, depending on relations with Russia,” Karachay said.
“Many Turks really consider Crimea to be Turkish land, and all Erdogan’s statements are pure populism. Today he says one thing, tomorrow he’s another,” Yunus Erdogdu, a Turkish opposition journalist living in Ukraine commented.
“In fact, the authorities have strategy on Crimea, but it has not been disclosed. Erdogan, of course, would like to return Crimea, like the nationalist Turks with whom he flirts. In the meantime, the president is trying to maneuver between Ukraine and Russia, defending his own interests in the region. Officially Erdogan constantly repeats that Turkey does not recognize the annexation of Crimea. And what specific sanctions is he taking against Russia?
Why not close the Bosphorus to Russian military and commercial ships? Closing the straits vital for Russia could return Crimea to Ukraine in a week. But Erdogan is not doing this because Russia is very strong, including in terms of military and intelligence, especially in Turkey.
Some Turks think they can ride a horse and take Moscow, but the authorities understand that on the way to Crimea they will lose Istanbul. Now someone wants to bump their heads against Russia and Turkey. And who needs a war between Russia and Turkey, who needs to exhaust both countries with battles, especially given the tension between them and the West? Geopolitical interests are involved here.”
And this is not entirely out of the question, after all Kiev discovered that United States’ support would be limited, since the Zelensky government has proven ineffective in any of its undertakings.
As such, it is beginning to look towards Turkey, with deepening cooperation, a deal for Bayraktar TB2 drones, and even a part of their production being transferred to Ukraine.
These things do not come free, as experience with Turkey shows, with the examples of Iraq, Syria’s Idlib, Libya, and likely Azerbaijan.
It should also be underlined that many Ukrainian nationalists (sic), as well as Crimean Tatar radicals support Turkey’s policies. The conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh “Russia unleashed the hands of Armenia,” said Igor Miroshnichenko, leader of the Sumy regional organization of the neo-Nazi-styled party “Svoboda”.
“Russia is fighting against Azerbaijan, supports Armenia. Armenia has long turned into Putin’s tame dog. Therefore, Azerbaijan’s position should be close to Ukraine,” Miroshnichenko said.
Meanwhile, Refat Chubarov, the leader of the so-called Crimean Tatar People’s Mejlis, banned in Russia as a radical group, accused Russia of “aggression against Azerbaijan”.
“It is possible that fighters of the ‘Crimean self-defense’, led by Armen Martoyan, will fly out of the temporarily occupied Crimea to participate in hostilities against Azerbaijan, against whom criminal cases have been initiated in Ukraine – in connection with the tortures and beatings of Ukrainian patriots committed by Martoyan in February – March 2014. Armen Martoyan may have been involved in the torture and murder of the Crimean Tatar Reshat Ametov, who was later awarded the posthumous title of Hero of Ukraine,” Chubarov wrote.
The Meijlis “NGO” is a veiled organization mostly known for its strong links with Turkish intelligence services and on the Turkish payroll, which was even established by Ukraine’s Security Service – SBU. The organization and radical militants affiliated with the Meijlis were among the key supporters of the water blockade to Crimea. It is also affiliated to the blackout in Crimea in 2015, which was caused by a terrorist attack against enerrgy infrastructure on the territory of Ukraine’s Kherson Region. The current HQ of the Mejilis of Crimean Tatar People is somehow located in Kiev and the group is also quite supportive of Turkey protecting the al-Qaeda affiliated militants it backs in Syria’s Idlib, even accusing Russia of aggression against the “moderate rebels.”
While at the first glance it could look like Turkish actions in the Middle East, Eastern Europe and the South Caucasus go contrary to interest of its Western allies, first of all NATO, in fact, they are in conflict only with a few NATO member states and are being in general endorsed (or at least not opposed) by the Washington establishment. In particular, the ongoing Armenian-Azerbaijani war, in which Turkey plays a major role, contributes to the interests of the globalists that seek to destabilize the region as a part of their wider strategy against to destabilize and dismantle Russia. The growing Turkish presence in Ukraine and even its claims of Crimea also contribute to this goal. The Kiev regime lost Crimea in 2014 and has no chances to return it. In these conditions, Turkish claims over Crimea change nothing for the Western camp and simultaneously alienate Ankara with Moscow.
This is why the United States and the United Kingdom are turning a blind eye towards Turkish actions, while they themselves work to increase their military infrastructure in Ukraine. The US military has set up a ‘logistical point’ in the port city of Nikolayiv and is now ‘helping’ Ukraine to work on its port of Odessa (which will likely also be used by the US as a military facility). Meanwhile, the UK has been also working to create its military base in Ukraine. Together with the ongoing US-NATO military buildup in Eastern Europe, this creates pretty nice conditions for another NATO member state, Turkey, to play its own game in the region. The possible ‘ideological differencies’ have already been settled. Ukraine supports the Azerbaijani-Turkish bloc in the conflict in the Nagorno-Karabakh region and cries foul about peaceful Turkish-funded al-Qaeda activists killed by coward Russians in Syria’s Idlib. The Turkish-funded network of NGOs working with Crimean Tatars has become the Kiev regime’s main friend in the field of the Crimean question. Even the ‘independent’ Orthodox Church of Ukraine (created to fight the canonical one under the pretext of opposing ‘Russian influence’) has no problems with Turkey’s decision to turn Hagia Sophia into a mosque and is happy to support any radicals or terrorists that would help it to achieve its main goal: to destroy the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) and destroy its properties. If this help would come from Turkish-funded Islamist, the new ‘independent’ church of Ukraine will be happy to accept it.
The national states of Europe, which have been able to rescue at least a part of its sovereignty despite the globalist occupation, demonstrate more and more concern regarding the developments in Eastern Europe and the Southern Caucasus. New regional wars (like the one in Nagorno-Karabakh) and permanent hot points (like Ukraine) do not contribute to their national security. However, it seems that they have little chances to overcome the globalist/neo-liberal lobby in the current conditions and thus they are being played and pushed into the new round of the great geopolitical game as pawns of their masters. The outcome of this standoff that may lead to a new big regional war in Europe will be far from positive for Europe.
MORE ON THE TOPIC:
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- Turkish Drone Diplomacy