The current state of Russian-Turkish relations, Ankara's assessment policy in Syria, Iraq, the former Soviet Union and other priority directions for it are the subject of attention of foreign (the most objective Chinese) and Turkish analysts, not associated with the government of Erdogan.
This article is based on the materials prepared for IBI by experts from the institute M. V. Kazanin and V. I. Kovalev. The first examines the work of the Middle East from China. The second analyzes the results of conferences on relations of Turkey with Russia and the EU, held at the University of Bashkent in Ankara. In aggregate, the revealed picture of the real situation around Turkey is far from that drawn by its top management.
The leaders of the Ottoman Empire dreamed of creating a global state from the 17th century. The port often started wars with its neighbors, Russia and Iran, but, as a rule, lost. As a result, Turkey remained on the peninsula, which is currently in use. Today, in terms of technical literacy and the ability to produce complex products, it ranks fifth among European countries, in terms of steel production - 11, in automobiles - 15. Chinese analysts note that Turkish state-owned companies are making efforts to develop the chemical industry, high-tech industries, to create electronic components and software.
Turkey’s ability to block traffic in its territorial waters poses a threat to Russian interests, and its level began to rise from 2008 (with the operation to force Georgia to peace), and then during the events in Crimea and in south-eastern Ukraine. Ankara and Washington strengthened their interaction in the military-political field. The reconnaissance and combat ships of the NATO member countries are now patrolling the Black Sea in greater numbers than before. Military experts of the PRC believe that over the past 10 – 15 years, Turkey has repeatedly made attempts to destabilize the situation in the North Caucasus. At the same time, Ankara led a double game with Moscow.
During 15 for years, Turkish President Erdogan met with Vladimir Putin, advocated cooperation and contracts with Russian companies, tried to shift energy flows to Southern Europe. At the same time, Turkish diplomats and intelligence officers were pursuing a strategy of "soft power." Its goal is the revival of Ottoman values among the Turkic peoples of the former Soviet republics, a reminder to Muslims that the Russian Federation is the heir to the Russian Empire, which "oppressed the faithful during 300 years." The secondary goal of the Turkish strategy is to raise Ankara’s authority in NATO and increase allocations for its armed forces.
The armed forces of Turkey are the most numerous in the North Atlantic alliance, except for the United States. They have 240 F-16 fighters of various modifications, 200 F-4 fighter-bombers armed with AIM-9X air-to-air missiles (this was shot down by Russian Su-24 in ATS airspace) and AIM-120. Pilots of the Turkish Air Force are trained in the United States, take part in the Red Flag maneuvers and rank second in the level of the NATO Air Force in terms of flight training.
Chinese experts say that Erdogan, dreaming of a new Ottoman Port, initiated the modernization of the country's armed forces, designed for 30 years. In this regard, there are three main areas. Priority given to the Navy. For their needs, design bureaus develop different types of surface ships - from universal landing craft (UDC) to ships - rescuers of submarines. This spectrum is explained by the fact that the Turkish leadership is planning to create and commission a full-fledged carrier-based strike force.
As an example, the UDC type project "Anatoly" is given. Its tactical and technical characteristics: length - 225 meters, width - 32 meters, full displacement - 25 000 – 28 000 tons, crew - 1400 in / s, speed - from 19,5 to 21 node. The ship can take eight helicopters, 700 marines. The design of the deck provides for the presence of a springboard with an angle of elevation 12 degrees, which allows you to provide take-off tiltrotor V-22 "Osprey" and F-35 fighter jets. Military intelligence of China considers that the Turkish industry is ready to produce metal for the takeoff deck (according to the requirements of the NATO Navy, the melting temperature of deck overlap is 1200 degrees Celsius). The design of the ship used a modular scheme that allows you to disassemble a portion of the interior and base it on a hovercraft inside the ship.
China believes that Turkey does not intend to peacefully resolve issues in the Middle East, as it grossly intervenes in the affairs of neighboring countries. Examples: a downed Russian plane in Syria over the area of compact residence of Turkic tribes, the deployment of 150 troops under the guise of armored vehicles (20 tanks and armored personnel carriers) to the territory of Iraq under the pretext of fighting the Islamic State. The actions of the White House in Syria and Iraq annoy Ankara, as the United States considers the Kurds their main supporters in the fight against terrorists and Islamists, giving them military-technical assistance. Moreover, over the past 30 years, about 30 Kurds have been killed during Turkish military operations.
According to China's political intelligence officers, the Turkish leadership activities are focused only on the restoration of the Ottoman Empire, which includes:
- squeezing out Kurds from the territory of Turkey and Iraq (the task is to liquidate the Workers' Party of Kurdistan and its branches in Iraq and Syria);
- Capturing part of the territory of Syria and the restoration of full control over the Mediterranean region.
The US and Turkish intelligence agencies in 2011 – 2014 worked closely together to create anti-government forces in Syria, and organized training centers in Turkey, Qatar and KSA. This met Erdogan’s hopes of creating a new Ottoman Porte, but the military operation of the Russian Aerospace Forces broke his plans. Chinese analysts agree with the views of the UK media (Independent, Daily Record) and Germany (Frankfurt Central Newspaper) that Erdogan was wrong in choosing a target (that is, a Russian plane) and made a dangerous act for which the Turkish economy pays . Western analysts believe that NATO did not expect such actions from Ankara, since Europe understands that only Russia is engaged in a real and active struggle against IS.
Chinese experts are sure of another loss of Turkey in the regional military-political game. As terrorists are destroyed, the flow of money that the Turkish leadership receives from oil exports and other contraband is running low. Obviously, uniting the efforts of Russia, Iran, Iraq and Syria will send the main stream of terrorists to Turkey and Ankara will have to strengthen the protection of its state border, which will entail significant expenditure of the budget. Otherwise, terrorist acts will continue that will increase the number of casualties among civilians and military and will damage the economy of the country, since it will completely lose its status as safe for tourists.
Everything is possible, but war
The point of view of Chinese analysts is largely confirmed by Turkish experts. 31 March a panel discussion was held at the Ankara University “Bashkent”, which was devoted to a discussion of the current state and prospects for the development of Russian-Turkish relations. We summarize the results of the presentations and discussions:
1. The sensitivity of bilateral relations at this stage is noted in the presence of obvious similarities between the political systems of the countries. The Russian-Turkish conflict is based on a personal factor. It was emphasized that there are not so many events analyzing bilateral relations in Turkey.
2. Russia is attempting to return to the “old days” and demonstrates the power approach in Georgia, Ukraine and Syria, puts such methods at the forefront in matters of building relations between the state and society.
3. Russia successfully use military force combined with modern hybrid doctrine of war and conflict.
4. In the foreign policy of Turkey for the first time in the Republican stories countries began to show "imperial syndrome", which was not until the second decade of the twenty-first century.
5. Historically established and still existing zones of intersection of interests of the two countries in the Balkans, the Caucasus, the Black Sea and Central Asia are outlined. Despite the significant military presence of the Russian Federation abroad (estimate: the total number of troops - 200 thousand, taking into account the rotation - about 400 thousand), she is under pressure around the perimeter of the borders from NATO, China and Islamic radicalism.
6. A comprehensive comparison of the potential of the Russian Federation and Turkey was conducted (using the assessments of experts from the USA and China).
The economic situation in terms of macroeconomic indicators (GDP, foreign exchange reserves, etc.) and the presence of narrow vulnerabilities.
The military-political potential of the Armed Forces of the two countries and the availability of alternative tools for conducting hybrid conflicts.
Russian “arguments”: nuclear threat, support for the Assad regime and the Syrian Kurds, gas supplies, cyber war, the deepening migration crisis, trade.
Turkish “arguments”: geopolitics, energy factor, straits, the Caucasus, an alliance with NATO.
The foreign state, including international ratings (at least similar for the two countries: the high corruption and the violation of democratic freedoms) and image abroad.
Russian international policy as a whole is rated as rational, conducted according to chess principles on the basis of weighted steps. On the contrary, the Turkish approach has been characterized as overly emotional and irrational. It is not by chance that the question is often asked: Did the 24 Turkey of November fall into the Russian trap? However, Turkish experts rejected the conspiracy theory, blaming everything on the costs of the system, and did not give estimates of the likelihood of a Russian “provocation”.
The presence of qualified regional geographic personnel and the effectiveness of the use of "soft power". Turkish speakers noted the advantage of the Russian Federation both in personnel matters (19 thousands of turkologists, a significant number of Arabists and Kurds) and in terms of the availability of African and Central Asian graduates of Russian universities, a potential for Ankara "fifth column".
7. Among Russia's economic problems, there is a weakening economy based on rent, an aging population, and a high level of corruption. Potentially - the destroyed education and health care system.
8. According to the presentations of the rapporteurs, the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, having a “nuclear plan B” and maintaining high potential (including the Air Force and Air Defense), are experiencing obvious difficulties, including a shortage of professionals, a delay in modernization and rearmament (in the Russian Federation - 30 percent, in NATO - 70 percent), lack of funds, etc.
9. Russian-Turkish crisis is inevitable. The economy could not indefinitely conceal increasing problems between the two countries in the political sphere, although it was possible to do in a quarter century.
10. Among the possible scenarios of development of the Russian-Turkish crisis mentioned four:
-freezing the situation and "crisis management";
-Russian-Turkish war (with the proviso that there is no likelihood of such a scenario);
-resolving the crisis.
11. Russia managed to limit Turkey's regional policy, but Moscow does not seek normalization of relations. Against this background, Russia signed an agreement on cooperation in peaceful uses of nuclear energy with Egypt, KSA and Qatar.
12. Turkey, for its part, is beginning to move from erroneous and inappropriate policies to more realistic ones. The first sign of this was a change in the rhetoric of the Turkish leadership towards the Syrian Kurds. It used to be said about the inadmissibility of the formation of the Kurdish "canton" in Syria, now Turkey is drawing for it the border along the Euphrates. Question: why does Ankara prefer that this region is controlled not by the Kurds, but by the Arabs? The experts agreed that the crisis between Russia and Turkey will continue for the time being, but will ever end.
instead of tourists Refugees
14 April at the same university held a discussion on the interaction between the EU and Turkey on the issue of refugees. It was observed:
1. For the summer of 2015, about four million Syrian refugees sought refuge in neighboring countries, including about 2,7 million in Turkey, a little more than a million in Lebanon, and 640 thousand in Jordan. In the EU, there were about 900 thousands of Syrian refugees. In terms of their ratio to the local population, the least favorable situation was in Lebanon (1: 4) and in Jordan (1: 10). In Turkey, this indicator is 1: 27. In Europe - 1: 588.
2. Until recently, the collection of data on refugees and their polls in Turkey have been hampered.
3. A number of EU countries impose strict requirements to the refugees by limiting their intake.
4. 60 percent of refugees are detained in Turkey. The remaining 40 percent goes on. Hence, the open door policy pursued by Turkey. Fares "fare": Western Europe - three thousand euros, Greece - 1,5 thousands. At the same time, Turkey risks getting refugees from other directions. Those are informed about their “inalienable human rights”, as well as legal rights, including their silence. Those who arrive in the EU not through Turkey (from Egypt or Libya) can indicate it as a country of origin and, if they have no convincing reasons to stay in Europe, move there.
5. 10 percent of refugees live in camps in Turkey. 90 percent settled in the territory. Even at the end of the war in Syria, about 50 percent will remain in Turkey. Most likely, this estimate too optimistic.
6. In Turkey, until now there has not been the emergence of movements against refugees in contrast to Europe. However, between them and the locals delineated social distance. With the refugees do not want to work together, to live in the neighborhood, to teach children.
7. Syrian refugees, as the survey showed that more confidence in the Turkish authorities than the EU. In Turkey, they work illegally a third of the minimum bet.
8. The agreement reached between the EU and Turkey on refugees (the so-called Brussels) may be a source of concern for Ankara. There are fears that the dialogue between the EU and Turkey will be started from scratch, leveling the agreements reached earlier. By recognizing it as a “supplier country” and turning it into a buffer zone for them, Brussels has the opportunity to postpone the conversation about EU membership to the long term. The mere fact of signing the Agreement on readmission in 2013 year served as a clear indication that Turkey is moving away from the EU accession line. On the other hand, Ankara received monetary compensation (up to 6 billion dollars with expenses indicated by the Turkish leadership in 10 billion), a chance to update the customs agreement with the EU and visa-free entry for its citizens to Europe.
9. Turkey assumes risks in connection with the exchange of “good” refugees for “bad” because it does not have readmission agreements with Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Egypt and what to do with non-Syrian refugees is not clear. The same Afghans create the problem of drug transit. Members of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) have been spotted in the ranks of refugees.
In general, it is possible to note the objectivity and high qualification of Turkish experts, to the best of their knowledge, assessing the risks and problems of the country, caused by the aggressive course that its own top leadership conducts. At the same time, unlike the Chinese analysts, Turkish specialists do not name these reasons directly because of the tight restrictions imposed on the opposition and the press by President Erdogan and his closest associates. The forceful and legal suppression of any dissenters with the foreign and domestic policies of the Justice and Development Party and its leader has become a characteristic feature of modern Turkey, which specialists (including foreigners) working in the territory of the country are forced to bear in mind.
Estimates of the correlation of the Russian-Turkish forces in the military-technical sphere force not only to talk about the timeliness of adopting a program of re-arming the Russian Armed Forces, but also to make the necessary adjustments taking into account the Turkish factor, which, while concentrating on the European-American component of NATO, is extremely unwise. Especially since the actions of Erdogan in Syria, including with regard to the Russian Aerospace Forces, showed the possibility of using Turkey against Russia as an independent player, whose actions do not necessarily lead to the intervention of other countries of the alliance. That, on the one hand, reduces the threat of Russia's conflict with NATO as a whole by an order of magnitude, but leaves room for far more provocations than those that the Russian videoconferencing force faced in Syria.
Thus, the situation around Nagorno-Karabakh is used by Erdogan for purposes that are far from freezing the conflict. His statement that the Minsk Group is not coping with the situation in the South Caucasus is a clear claim to participate in the military-diplomatic game in this region. The fact that provocations against the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, bringing him to the level of a full-scale war, are the main task of the Turkish president, proves his policy in Libya, Iraq and Syria. And hope that the normalization of relations between Moscow and Ankara will happen by itself, more than naive.