In an interview with the website of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, Afifeh Abedi, referring to Turkey’s attempt to establish a telephone call between Erdogan and Putin to reach a framework regarding the extension of the grain agreement, noted: The recent meeting of the presidents of Turkey and Russia in Sochi should be an important development in relations between Ankara and Moscow. Although bilateral pragmatism and relations between the two countries led to continuous cooperation in many fields, political considerations have increased in this regard.
She said Russia’s opposition to the opening of the Black Sea crossing and continuation of grain exports through this route is a sign of the increasing negative influence of the West on Russia-Turkey relations, adding: Moscow evaluates Ankara’s attempt to mediate between Russia and the West regarding the grain agreement as Turkey’s attempt to upgrade its position in the eyes of the West. In this context, Putin had announced earlier that Russia behaved deceitfully in the previous agreement signed with Erdogan’s mediation. The grains that came out of the Black Sea reached the hands of rich countries, and a small percentage was given to low-income countries.
The analyst of Russia affairs stated that Moscow’s preconditions on lifting the financial sanctions imposed against Russia show the targets and motivations of the Kremlin regarding resistance to the grain agreement, and added: Until now, the pragmatic approaches of Putin and Erdogan in increasing relations and closeness of considerations Russia and Turkey had a great influence. However, with the continuation of the Ukraine crisis, Russia’s geopolitical considerations and economic interests will significantly impact the relations between Moscow and Ankara.
Abedi emphasized that in the past, despite political-security differences, Turkey and Russia were able to interact more in regional and international cases due to the high volume of economic relations. Still, the crisis in Ukraine and the pressures of the West have negatively affected Turkey’s balanced approach with regard to the West and Russia. Russians are suspicious of Turkey’s future policies.
According to the expert on Russian affairs, Ankara looks at the relationship with Moscow from the perspective of economic and commercial interests. Still, now, the Russians, in addition to increasing the economic view in this regard, want to use the Turkish channel to reduce tensions with the West and seek a solution in relation to sanctions. This issue has been affected by the reluctance of the West to minimize pressure against Russia. In particular, the United States and the European Union, on the other side, consider the relationship between Russia and Turkey as Russia’s economic breathing space and are trying hard to destroy this relationship.
She added: It is expected that in the surrounding areas of the two countries, Syria, the Black Sea, the Mediterranean, Central Asia, and the South Caucasus, and even the economic relations between them, different conditions will be created from the previous process and we will witness an increase in conflict and competition between Russia and Turkey in those areas. The recent rise in Turkish attacks in Syria can also be analyzed within the same framework.
Abedi emphasized: However, there is a possibility that Russia and Turkey will once again reach a new initiative and agreement with the cooperation of international institutions. Earlier, some sources announced the possibility of canceling the access ban of the Russian Agricultural Bank from access to SWIFT. There is a possibility of such initiatives. But altogether, any type of agreement will probably face a time limit and verification of obligations.
Referring to the prospects of Turkey’s efforts to mediate in the Ukrainian war due to the tensions that have arisen, the expert on Russia affairs said: All the efforts to intervene in the Ukrainian war have so far been unsuccessful due to the unwillingness of the United States to negotiate the peace of Ukraine and the end of the war, and there is no prospect for those efforts. As such, the meeting in Jeddah was to increase support for Ukraine rather than provide a solution for negotiation and peace. This situation also includes Turkey’s efforts for mediation. The increase in the export of arms to Ukraine and the new trips of American and European officials to Ukraine shows that the war is still ongoing.
Saying that the issue of continued grain exports has now become a playing card in the hands of Russia, she noted: In the current situation, it does not seem that Russia, which is under unprecedented pressure from sanctions, has a desire to give up the card. The condition of lifting sanctions from Russia shows that this country is considering getting maximum points from a possible agreement on grains.
Referring to the prospects of relations between Moscow and Ankara, Abedi explained: Previously, we witnessed a situation of asymmetric interdependence in the economic relations between Turkey and Russia, in which Russia had the upper hand, but with the imposition of sanctions against that country, the situation can change in favor of Turkey. In addition, Russia’s oriental approach can reduce Turkey’s role in Russia’s economic calculations. However, due to Russia’s need to reduce tensions in the Black Sea, Moscow will refrain from turning this relationship into a hostile one.
The researcher of the Research Institute of the Expediency Council considered the close friendly relations between Moscow and Ankara in the Black Sea, which is surrounded by NATO members except Ukraine and Russia, as a great opportunity for the Kremlin and said: The Black Sea is strategically important for Russia and Turkey’s policy in the sea Black is very important for Moscow. On the other hand, Turkey is always trying to balance its foreign policy to avoid being entirely in line with the West due to the pessimism in its relations with the West.
She reminded: Erdogan also follows a pragmatic approach in relation to the West, but he knows that his existence is stuck in the West’s throat like a bone, and even if Turkey’s relationship with Russia is destroyed, he will not necessarily be met with a friendly approach from the West. Therefore, Russia and Turkey will go to deal and exchange points regarding some disputes. This deal could include the Black Sea, the Caucasus, and Syria. For this reason, Iran should also be more aware of common cases with those countries, including Syria.