At present, the eyes of the world are once again on Ukraine, on the eastern provinces and Crimea in the light of an increasingly confrontational attitude between Russia and its allies and Ukraine and the NATO countries.
In addition to these central aspects, however, there is another relationship of interest in this constellation, namely that between Turkey and Russia, which is likely to undergo another of its many stress tests shortly. In view of the numerous conflicts of interest between the two states and the near escalation in the last decade, they have shown an impressive mixture of cooperation and competition in recent years, with which they have repeatedly been able to surprise other states.
In the Black Sea there are currently two powers, Russia and Turkey, which are striving for dominance. Crimea is essential for Russia to maintain access to the sea. Turkey, on the other hand, has a long Black Sea coast in addition to the Bosporus, the only access to another inland sea, and has been investing in its navy for years. In order to expand its supremacy, it is therefore Ukraine’s natural ally.
In addition to these geostrategic aspects, Turkey’s historical connection to Crimea also plays a role, as it was part of the Crimean Khanate for a long time, which regarded the Ottoman Empire as its protecting power. In addition, thousands of Crimean Tatars, who are Muslim and belong to the Turkic peoples, still live on the peninsula today. This means that Ankara automatically feels a certain responsibility for these people and would have to stand up for them in the event of a military escalation in order to be able to credibly represent its desired regional leadership role.
It will be exciting to observe how the two powers will address their differences this time.