The war in Ukraine has accentuated anti-Westernism as one of the main fault lines of Turkish political competition.

War in Ukraine
Implications for the future of EU-Turkey relations

Vladimir Putin’s war against Ukraine is a watershed event for Europe and the wider world, Tur­key included. While Ankara is trying to protect its economy and security interests, anti-Western narratives dominate the public debate, writes Sinem Adar

In the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Ankara has so far hedged its bets and protected its economy and security interests. Turkey has over the years become Ukraine’s largest foreign investor. In early February, the two countries signed a free trade agreement. Ukraine is also an impor­tant market for Turkish drones, and Ankara is eyeing Kyiv for cooperation in defense tech­nology. Meanwhile, Russia is one of Turkey’s largest trading partners for im­ports and one of its main gas suppliers. Tourism from Ukraine and Russia is a vital revenue source for a rapidly deteriorating Turkish economy. Wheat trade with both countries amounts to around 80 percent of Turkey’s imports.

Ankara is carefully trying to not antagonize Russia while continuing to militarily support Ukraine. Besides the economic burden that an open confrontation with the Kremlin might inflict on Turkey, it could also lead to military retaliation in Syria and to a subsequent migration wave from Idlib to Turkey, which hosts the largest refugee population worldwide. At the same time, the increased Russian presence in Ukraine, particularly along the coastline in the south, further raises Turkey’s strategic vulnerabil­ity in the Black Sea, accentuating its Cold War threat perceptions.

© SWP | German Institute for International and Security Affairs 2022


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