Russia’s Approach to the Supply of Turkish Drones to Ukraine

Strategic Council Online—Interview: A Turkish issues researcher said that Turkiye's military cooperation with Ukraine, especially in the field of building unmanned aerial vehicles, is not a simple matter but based on a multifaceted policy that Turkiye has taken since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, Ankara is trying to maintain its role in creating regional and global balance by playing a role in the Ukraine crisis.

Siyamak Kakaei told the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations that Russia knows Turkiye has close relations with Ukraine and supports this country. However, this does not mean Moscow’s permanent appeasement towards Ankara. On the other hand, Ukraine knows that Turkiye has close relations with Russia in gas, economy, and political relations. In addition, the West and NATO also understand the importance of Turkiye in connection with the Ukraine crisis. They are not upset with the policy adopted by Turkiye and even welcome it.

He added that the central point of Turkiye’s multifaceted equation is the country’s geopolitical position in the region, giving it the power to act in this scene.

Referring to the words of Erdogan, who said that we will not abandon Turkiye’s global interests and continue our relations with Russia and Ukraine together, this researcher of Turkey studies added that these positions show that Turkiye follows the policy of interaction and cooperation with all countries and regional and global actors in its foreign policy and program.

Pointing to the contract for the construction and production of unmanned aerial vehicles in Ukraine by Turkiye, Kakaei said that this is a part of Turkiye’s expanding military and defense strategy. The production of UAVs by Turkiye is followed in a large number of countries, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Basically, Turkiye’s UAV manufacturing industry is expanding in other countries.

He stated that the crisis in Ukraine and the situation that has arisen now have a historical connection that goes back to the Crimean crisis in 2014, adding that Turkiye has always been critical of the annexation of Crimea to Russian territory and has never recognized Crimea as a Russian territory and considers it a part of the land of Ukraine.

“In the last decade, Turkiye has tried to display a new form of foreign policy that has streaks of independence. After the coup of 2016, Turkiye improved its relations with Russia and, at the same time, promoted the interaction with Europe and China to the same extent, in the same manner, that it pursued the purchase of S-400 missile systems from Russia or the construction of new gas pipelines despite the opposition of the West. With these measures, Turkiye intends to maintain and stabilize its acting power in the region in the long term.

Emphasizing that the war in Ukraine presented a new reflection of the geopolitical position of Turkiye and directed the West’s gaze towards this country, Kakaei said that Turkiye has paid attention to several components concerning Ukraine, including the attempt to mediate between Russia and Ukraine, which has been followed by Ankara from the beginning of the war and believes that Ankara has the capacity to mediate to end this war. Through political exchanges and military cooperation with Russia and Ukraine, Turkiye is trying to show its role as a country that can have a serious effect in reducing international crises.

This researcher of Turkish affairs pointed to Russia’s view of Turkiye’s interaction with Ukraine, especially regarding the construction of unmanned aerial vehicles. He said that Russia needs to cooperate with Turkiye to neutralize the pressure of international sanctions; therefore, it ignores some military programs and contracts that Turkiye has concluded with Ukraine. This Russian approach is derived from the need it has for Turkiye. The issue of selling unmanned aerial vehicles to Ukraine is not limited to a recent year, but a few years ago, there were agreements between the two countries that Russia strongly opposed, but the current situation is different because of the war, so that Turkiye, according to the needs of Russia, Ukraine, and the West has become the actor of this scene and rotates the globe in the same orbit.

Kakaei pointed out that due to the erosion of the war in Ukraine, there is a possibility that Turkish consultations will increase as an intermediary link. In this regard, recently, discussions were raised by Turkish officials for mediation or reconciliation between Kiev and Moscow, which goes beyond this country’s political, economic, and military relations with Russia and Ukraine and falls within the framework of the role that Turkiye has defined for itself at the level of international interactions.

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