Russia’s entry into the Syrian conflict is upsetting Turkey’s diplomatic ambitions. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s power play has shown that his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, lacks geopolitical leverage.
Prior to the Syrian intervention, robust trade relations, particularly in the energy sphere, had brought Turkey and Russia closer together. The strong-arm governing styles of both Putin and Erdoğan likewise helped the two leaders develop a strong working relationship.
“He [Erdoğan] saw Russia as [a] counterbalance to NATO and [the] US,” recalled Suat Kınıklıoğlu, a former MP for Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the former spokesperson for parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee.
The Kremlin’s Syrian intervention has quickly driven a wedge between Putin and Erdoğan. The political future of incumbent Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad is the main stumbling block: Putin is determined to keep Assad in power, while Erdoğan has long considered his ouster to be the key to restoring Syrian peace.
To read the full story
Dorian Jones is a freelance reporter based in Istanbul.