Prepared by the researcher : Nour Tayseer Al-sweilmyeen – Researcher in International Relations, MA in Diplomatic Studies, University of Jordan, Faculty of International Studies, Department of International Relations
Democratic Arabic Center
Journal of Political Science and Law : Thirty-seventh – September 2023
A Periodical International Journal published by the “Democratic Arab Center” Germany – Berlin
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The study aims to demonstrate the Turkish attitude towards the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, highlight the importance of the role of Turkish mediation, how it has changed the course of the war to some extent and how this has affected the development of Russian-Turkish relations positively.
The study problem revolves around research into the reasons why Turkey intervened in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, trying to understand Turkish diplomacy, the peacebuilding process through the mediation role that has been played in this war and how it affected the weight of the Turkish state in the Middle East. This study adopted the descriptive approach and the three levels of analysis used by Kenneth Waltz. This study is also based on the new realist theory.
The study concludes that this conflict showed Turkey’s role as an active mediator in the centre of calm and rationality to reduce the intensity of the conflict, which was one of the factors in strengthening relations between Turkey and Russia and indicating greater cooperation in the future on the political, economic and military levels, therefore absolute pragmatism and an attempt to regain influence were At the top of the motives of Turkish diplomacy in playing a mediating role in many regional and international files.
The Russian-Ukrainian Conflict is an example of a conflict of interest between Russia and Turkey, primarily as Russia seeks to preserve its interests with its main allies in the Middle East. Since its inception in 2014, the Ukrainian crisis has affected the relationship between Russia and Turkey in a dynamic and somewhat uneven way. The Turkish state’s movements are based on its strong ties with both Moscow and Kiev, its geopolitical weight, which has strengthened its regional and international presence after becoming a major player in many of the files in the arena. The Ukrainian situation was not the first in this diplomatic path, so Turkey has a long history of mediating against many files since the founding of its current Republic in 1923, based on a package of foundations and determinants through which it seeks to achieve a lengthy list of objectives, some of which have succeeded and failed in others.
This conflict has demonstrated Turkey role in the centre of calm and rationality, with the recent escalation of events in 2022 as an essential player on the international scene in playing the role of mediator between the parties to the crisis in an effort to calm the situation in Ukraine and reduce the conflict, As Turkey enjoys good relations with both Russia and Ukraine and is acceptable to both parties, emphasising that it is one of the few actors able to speak with both sides, The current conflict has become a test of the Turkish ability to bring together adversaries, the role of mediation reflects part of an intense political and diplomatic movement that has now made Turkey at least one of the centres of the making events and potential transformations.
Problem of The Study:
The study problem revolves around research into the reasons why Turkey intervened in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, identified the underpinnings and determinants of Turkey’s foreign policy as well as trying to understand Turkish diplomacy and the peacebuilding process through the mediation role it played in this war and how it affected the balance of power in the Middle East.
The Questions of the Study:
This study raises one main question, followed by three sub-questions, which are:
– Why did Turkey play the role of a peacebuilding mediator and calm the situation in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict?
1 – What is the Turkish position towards the Russian-Ukrainian war?
2 – What are the foreign policy motivations of Turkey ?
3 – What are the reinforcements of the Turkish mediation role?
The hypothesis of The Study:
The study assumes that Turkish mediation played an important role in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict and took a positive direction in the development of Russian-Turkish relations.
The Significance of The Study:
The Russian-Ukrainian conflict is one of the most important in the world because it is linked to several countries and several vital axes in the world politically and economically, in the first place, so the importance of the study is to present Turkey’s role as a fundamental actor in the international arena, specifically in the Middle East, Its emergence as a State with a clear influence, particularly Turkey’s mediation role in the Russian-Ukrainian war, how this has affected the world’s balance of power in recent times and has made each Western country reconsider its foreign policy with Turkey as a strong influence, also to hope that the results of this study will serve as a focus for discussion and analysis of international relations. Furthermore, this study is a cognitive addition to political studies in general and diplomatic and future studies.
Objectives of the study:
– Highlighting the importance of the role of Turkish mediation, how it has changed the course of the war to some extent and how this has affected the positive development of Russian-Turkish relations.
– Focus on Turkey’s foreign policy behaviour towards the Russian-Ukrainian conflict.
– Clarification of the nature of the conflict, the most significant consequences of which will be reviewed in the light of Ukraine’s geopolitical importance in the northern Black Sea region, which has made its consequences more serious at various levels.
It was necessary to adopt an approach consistent with the topic’s complementary objectives to enrich the topic of the study as required in the context of analysis and tracking of events. Accordingly, the descriptive approach was adopted to describe, interpret and analyse phenomena, which are the most appropriate used in international relations and conflicts, which are divided into several ways, but the appropriate method for such a study is the case study. The phenomenon has an impact on another phenomenon and attempts to predict the following phenomena. The descriptive approach is therefore a way of studying scientific phenomena or problems by conducting a scientific description, thus reaching logical explanations with evidence that gives the researcher the ability to develop specific frameworks for the problem, which is used in determining the results of the research.
This study adopts the three-level analysis methodology used by Kenneth Waltz, where the level of leadership and foreign policy, hence the level of societies, and finally the level of the international system as a whole, including the regional level, will be analysed. The international environment also affects the dynamics of relations between Turkey, Russia and Ukraine, certainly focusing on the last turning point, the Russian-Ukrainian war since February 2022.
1. Rabhi’s study, Ibrahim Al-Siddiq (2015), entitled: Turkish mediation in the Syrian-Israeli conflict
The study aimed to clarify the concept of mediation and its theories, the concept of power mediation and its characteristics, and the theory of power mediation. The Golan, the subject of the conflict between Syria and Israel, the development of the conflict before the Madrid Peace Conference, and the negotiation track from Madrid to the year 2000, were also studied. Turkish mediation and the relationship between The Turkish mediator with the two parties to the conflict, the objectives of the Turkish mediation, the sources of strength, weakness of the Turkish mediator, and finally the Syrian and Israeli goals from the Turkish mediation by dealing with the Syrian-Israeli track after the year 2000, and the Syrian goals and the Israeli goals from the Turkish mediation.
2. Kaddoura, Emad (2021) book, entitled: Turkish Foreign Policy: Trends, Flexible Alliances, Power Policy.
The author, Imad Kaddoura, argues that the current Turkish foreign policy relies on strengthening relations with the major powers in both the West and the East, within flexible alliances that avoid relying on a dominant ally, benefit from the advantages of both directions, and balance one with the other in case of tension.
However, Turkey faces a dilemma in building these alliances. It is not wholly reliable, and involves competition and political differences. Therefore, it is working to develop a third direction to achieve the national interest, which is to enhance independence through strategic self-sufficiency economically and defensively, to pursue a firm policy that combines diplomacy and forceful behaviour.
The book details the current foreign policy, its trends, alliances, studies the domestic and foreign events and variables, in the period 2010 – 2021, that affected its crystallization, discusses the extent to which it relates to previous policies since the War of Independence and the founding of the Republic in 1923. Foreign policy issues are linked to a prevailing current and a common national feeling of Turkey’s status However, the achievement of its objectives depends on the government’s approach, effectiveness and behaviour.
First: Turkey’s Position on the Russian-Ukrainian War
The Russian war on Ukraine a year ago brought about broad global polarization and revived the Cold War era between Russia and the West. This war was particularly challenging for the States most affected by it, due to the geographical location and overlapping interests between Moscow and the West. Turkey is one of these States and has presented an exceptional international model in the management of its position on war, based primarily on a balanced approach.
In February 24th, 2022 the Russian-Ukrainian war officially broke out, following a large-scale Russian military build-up in northern, eastern and southern Ukraine, after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the launch of what he called a “special military operation in Ukraine” This war has caused global economic and political crises and human losses.
The Russian-Ukrainian War is a watershed event for the Eurasian region and the entire world. The indicators that this war going with accelerated variables that, in one way or another, affect the countries of Russia’s and Ukraine’s neighbourhood. Including Turkey, whose position on the war was stuck in the middle between Moscow and Kyiv, particularly Ankara’s close lead with its Western allies in supporting the Ukrainians while avoiding – at the same time – the demolition of bridges with the Russian side.
Ankara’s initiative was to demonstrate good faith to NATO states by acting as a mediator between the two conflicting countries in the framework of a balancing policy that has made Turkey pro-Ukraine but at the same time not entirely hostile to Russia, giving it distinction in fencing and reducing roles. At a time when Ankara explicitly opposed the war, continued to deepen its military partnership with Kiev, Providing them with armed drones and closing the straits of the Black Sea to Russian warship traffic under the Treaty of Montreux, It also refused to participate in Western sanctions against Moscow and sought to play the role of mediation between Moscow and Kyiv, By hosting the only post-war Foreign Ministers’ meeting, sponsoring prisoner exchange deals, as well as sponsoring a convention for the export of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea, which is the largest achievement of Turkish diplomacy in this conflict. It also deepened its trade and economic relationship with Russia after the war. Insofar as the balance approach enabled Turkish President Erdogan to limit the consequences of the war on his country and its overlapping interests with Russia and the West, it also helped to maximize its geopolitical significance in international policies.
While balancing the cost-benefit of Turkey’s position on the Ukrainian War, prolonging this war makes Ankara unvaccinated against the many shifts resulting from the crisis economically and securely, specifically with increased Western pressure on Moscow, which may force Ankara to take a clear position while rearranging its geopolitical calculations, especially by returning to line up and rapprochement with the Central Asian states, It is also the case of maintaining diverse and stable alliances with the Gulf States, Iran and Israel, seeking to secure their economy and resolve their crises, as well as entrenching a more significant role for themselves in the new world order.
In the face of the Russian-Ukrainian war from the outset, Turkey has adopted a clear, balanced, principled, impartial and open relationship of dialogue between the parties, which has become called “active neutrality” or “active mediation”; however, this position also included a model of just and equitable conduct, which provides for that Ukraine has the right to act as an independent and sovereign state and that Russia’s annexation of Crimea and occupation of the Donbas is unacceptable. In this context, this principled position has elevated Turkey to the position of the essential NATO nation that can negotiate with both sides and earn the confidence of both sides, especially as it is one of the countries that has won the acceptance of the parties to the conflict to sit at the negotiating table through it, pave the way for a ceasefire, a lasting and definitive peace by making the best use of diplomacy. For example, French President Macron tried to develop an unfinished diplomacy with the parties. Still, he was unable to achieve any results, and Turkey was able to bring together the two states’ foreign ministers, Lavrov and Kuliba – who had not met for several years – at the Antalya Diplomatic Forum. Behind this success were President Erdogan’s leading diplomacy with both sides, the intensive efforts of Turkish foreign policy, and the institutional and peaceful political path he has pursued since the establishment of the Republic.
Considering that the Russian-Ukrainian war is an arena for competitive cooperation between Russia and Turkey, it is also an examination of Turkey’s foreign policy. That Ankara is a member of NATO, possesses military and defence relations with Ukraine. Still, in return, it is in a state of cooperation and engagement with Moscow in several regional files, making its position very accurate and loaded with many complex calculations. Turkey is uniquely placed in the war between Russia and Ukraine, owing to its co-geographical location in the Black Sea and the intertwining of their economic, military, geostrategic relations and aspirations, not to mention the Bosphorus and Dardanelles Straits, so the Turkish State moves in this conflict based on its “competitive cooperation” policy. Turkey has one of the most essential armies of NATO and allows the hosting of NATO bases on its territory; besides participating in the achievement of the Alliance’s security objectives, this could put Ankara on the line if NATO enters a direct military war against Russia. In light of Russia’s threats against Poland and the Baltic States, but Turkey is partially assured that it could break this impasse because Ukraine is not a member of NATO. Thus, the Turkish army is not obliged to defend it even if NATO States do. This obliged Ankara to deal sensitively with that war as a member of the “Montreux Convention” and NATO, together with the creation of political and economic partners with Russians in order to avoid any thorny entanglement.
In light of these accelerated moves, Turkey’s position has been characterised by the ability to reflect the role of Turkey’s disregarded participation in Western power exercises organised by Greece from May 9 to 20, 2022, justifying its strained relations with Athens against the backdrop of disagreement in the Eastern Mediterranean, and accusing the Greek side of its Turkish counterpart of penetrating its airspace. Still, Ankara’s real goal was to avoid provoking the Russian side about participation in these Western exercises. Turkey also rejected Finland and Sweden’s accession to NATO despite the agreement of the other 29 members, explaining that its rejection came from its conviction that the same mistake would not be repeated when it agreed to Greece’s accession, which it quickly opposed within the Alliance.
In view of Turkey’s position on the Russian-Ukrainian war, initially, according to official statements, Turkey had an extraordinary view of the war, as it described it as the Russian military operation against Ukraine, which could be regarded as a neutral position to explain the Russian attack. In general, Turkish attitudes took into account international law and citizens’ special rights, on one hand considering that Russian aggression could not be justified, on the other hand upholding the right of Ukrainians to defend themselves, it went on to support the protection of Russian citizens and their property in Western countries.
By considering and analysing Turkey’s initial position on the Russian- Ukrainian conflict, Turkey’s position can be found in several key points:
1- Declare a complete stand with the unity of Ukrainian territory and against any Russian interference; This constituted a critical proactive stance against Russian interference in Ukraine, which Turkey sees as a natural buffer zone with Russia.
2- To work vigorously to support the historical presence of Crimean Tatars.
3- Work on the non-conversion of Crimea to the battlefield of world powers.
At the same time, there are determinants of Turkey’s position, which is restricted by several restrictions, including:
1- Turkey’s reliance on Russia for nearly half of its imports of natural gas. 12% of oil imports are also from Russia. And It imported 45% of its gas consumption from Russia in 2021 and 40% in 2022.
2- Turkey’s historical fears of the Russians and the region’s transformation into a conflict arena bring Turkey’s response to Russian behaviour closer to calm and to adopting budgets that favour the Turkish interest.
Second: Turkish diplomacy and mediation role in the Russian-Ukrainian war
1. Concepts of Mediation:
The importance of mediation as an alternative means of peacefully resolving international disputes lies in the alternative idea of coercion and violence arising between the conflicting States; It is seen as an alternative to even the judiciary and beyond its complex procedures aimed at resolving international disputes between subjects of international law away from competent national courts and tribunals, and away from the bickering that arises when proceedings are brought before international courts.
Mediation is defined here as a pacific approach to conflict resolution in which impartial third parties help disputants resolve conflicts through a process of information and social influence, without using violence or invoking the authority of a legal system. The objective of disputants in inviting or accepting mediation is to reach compromise in a conflict, or at least to indicate willingness to do so, The third party in mediation may be an individual, organization, or country that is not a direct party to the conflict. For a mediation to be successful and for a compromise to be reached, an effective strategy must be employed by a mediator.
The definition of scholars of international law: It is the attempt of one or more States to resolve a dispute between two or more States through negotiation in which they are also participate, however good or bad mediation may be.
Mediation can also be defined as: a method of alternative resolution of international disputes based on providing a forum for the conflicting parties to meet, dialogue and converge views with the assistance of an impartial person in order to try to reach an amicable solution acceptable to the parties to the conflict.
According to a careful policy between Kyiv and Moscow, President Tayyip Erdogan has achieved several significant diplomatic achievements. Erdogan summarised his position by saying, “We are part of this world, but we are not in the East nor the West”. That is the slogan of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Since the beginning of the war, Turkey has been able to gather representatives of Russia and Ukraine twice on its territory.
2. The role of that mediation has been strengthened for two reasons:
First: it revolves around Turkey-Ukraine relations, while Russian-Turkish relations are affected by Turkey’s relations with Ukraine, as Ukraine enjoys totalitarianism compared to some European countries. All Turkish benefits from the Russian and Ukrainian sides make Ankara’s position neutral in the war, as it supports Ukraine and avoids provoking Russia at the same time.
Second: it lies in the Finnish-Swedish issue and joining NATO. In May 2022, the statements of the countries of Finland and Sweden that they applied to join the “NATO” alliance, this consider represented a difficult test for Russian-Turkish relations and the extent of the ability of the Turkish decision-maker to manoeuvre politically. On the part of NATO, he welcomed this step, stressing that he may later classify the behaviour of Russia as a “direct threat”, But Russian President Putin, responding to NATO’s remarks, warned against any military expansions that posed a threat to Russia and clarified that concerning NATO’s expansion, including new NATO members Russian Federation, Finland and Sweden, have no problems with them, which means that expansion through them does not create a direct threat to Russia. However, expanding military infrastructure in these areas will certainly lead to action based on the threats that will arise.
This is not the first time Turkey has tried to act as a mediator. At the beginning of the 21st century, Ankara published “peace diplomacy” in the Middle East in a unique attempt to sponsor negotiations between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority. As of 2009, it also played a mediator role in Iran’s nuclear file. Since the beginning of the war, Turkey has been aware of the importance of containing the conflict and preventing the outbreak of war.
Therefore, it was her preferred mediation option and open contact with direct and secondary parties to the conflict. In this context, it has adopted cautious diplomacy to avoid early bias, not being a party to a conflict whose repercussions are still forming. It has entered into careful balances that take into account the parties’ intensity of interest, membership in NATO and collective security obligations. Turkey’s interest focused on promoting mediation by holding a meeting between the two heads of state. Vladimir Putin and Vladimir Zelensky, as the closest way to stop the war and bring peace on February 3th, 2022.
Turkey’s position can be read in two respects; The first is related to the definition of aggression in international law, and therefore the responsibility for stopping the war lies with Russia. The second is that it seeks to build confidence with President Putin, to consider him the centre of a peaceful solution, and operating according to the priority of establishing the balance of Turkey’s relations in the Black Sea. In general, Turkey’s perception of mediation is based on the parties’ ability to cease fire and address the effects of war, especially those associated with supporting refugees. This phase of contact with the parties began as an initial step of mediation.
So, following Turkish contacts with the parties, a meeting of the delegations of Russia and Ukraine was held in Istanbul on March 27th, 2022, on the initiative of President Erdogan following contact with President Putin, intending to reach a ceasefire; Turkey considered the parties’ agreement to mediation to be a constructive point, as the meeting in Istanbul at the level of the delegations of Russia and Ukraine reflected a partial change in the attitude of the parties to the conduct of war, On one hand, the transition of talks from Belarus to Turkey reflects the possibility of communicating with a neutral third party and the desire to stop the war, and on the other hand, the meeting remains in the preliminary talks to identify the parties intentions.
The negotiations were conducted on mutual terms between the two States, Russia and Ukraine. Before meeting the Foreign Ministers of Turkey, the Russian presidency declared its terms for the cessation of the war, primarily the change of Ukraine’s borders, where recognition of Crimea’s dependence is part of Russia, as well as acceptance of the independence of the Donetsk and Lugansk republics. On Ukraine’s part, the claims were concentrated into three:
1- The Ceasefire.
2- Withdrawal of Russian troops.
3- Binding security assurances for the integrity of Ukraine’s territory.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s announcement of an exchange of 200 prisoners of war, brokered by Turkey following diplomatic talks with his Russian counterparts Vladimir Putin and Ukraine’s Vladimir Zelensky, is an expression of Turkey’s intensive diplomatic efforts to bring peace between the two countries, to a ceasefire in Ukraine and to return to the negotiating table. Ankara is also making efforts with all parties to resolve problems related to the implementation of the grain export agreement brokered by Turkey and the United Nations in July 2022. It continued its efforts to ensure the continuation of the grain shipment agreement from Ukrainian ports.
As another expression of attempts to reduce the severity of the conflict while maintaining the process of the functioning of relations with Ukraine, Russia, through the Ministry of Defence, announced the suspension of ship traffic through the safe passage specified under the Black Sea Grain Transport Initiative; Due to its use from Ukraine in conducting combat operations against Russia. Turkey’s intervention in this position reflected the fact that the Agreement would secure exports of grain stuck in Ukrainian ports on the Black Sea (Eastern Europe) to the world to address the global food shortage crisis threatening a humanitarian catastrophe.
The Turkish decision was endorsed by Western countries as a restriction of Russian militarism and a rapprochement with the Turkish Government, conditions similar to the amendment to the Lausanne Convention of 1923, to increase Turkey’s powers to control military navigation in the Straits, so as to establish rules for the passage of warships and restrict their cargo. As it is difficult to anticipate an end to war, the importance of the debate seems to be an opportunity to review and develop the Convention, especially given the evolution of the weapons range and the explosive force of the crackers; Turkey could endeavour to revise the Convention with regard to the number of vessels passing simultaneously, the quality of munitions carried and the extent of commitment to peaceful passage. In any event, these contexts have placed restrictions on Turkey’s role, further complicating the crisis and the absence of cover for international legitimacy to provide guarantees of negotiation outcomes. There is a race between peaceful settlement factors and the catalysts of conflict, which constitutes a dilemma for the development of negotiations, especially with the actual or secondary multilateralism of the conflict, as opposed to the lack of mediators. Then, the Progress in the cessation of war is therefore linked to political containment to foster negotiation and provide the necessary guarantees for a ceasefire.
Despite welcoming the Turkish mediation, the West’s reading stops at the competitive nature of the Turkish role. Talk about changing the existing formula of the international system includes a path to positioning in international relations and restructuring the security system. It is not limited to addressing the war between Russia and Ukraine to the extent that significant Powers are unwilling to share or expand participation in the decision’s power. Here, Turkey’s policy can be evaluated in two respects; Maintain an appropriate limit on neutrality and interests with the parties, and expand its network of relations with different countries.
Third: The Results of The Turkish Role in the Russian-Ukrainian War
It can be concluded from the above the results of the Turkish role in the Russian-Ukrainian war that this role has begun to produce successful, for the striking results recently, has led to an increase in Turkey’s geopolitical and geostrategic importance once again to our allies, NATO, the European Union, and especially the United States of America, despite those restrictions that The Turkish role confronted it during the mediation process. It came to the point that Joe Biden, who had not cared about Turkey and considered it non-existent since the beginning of the war, had to meet with Erdogan after the ministers’ meeting in Antalya. US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman stated during her visit to Turkey on March 4th, 2022 that Turkey had become an important NATO ally under the Ukraine War, that its ability to communicate with Zelensky and Putin at the same time adds great privilege to itself, and that its transparent policy of the Montreux Convention saved straits from becoming a war party. In light of these developments, the time has come to solve the issue of AC 400, F-16 and F-35 one by one.
Above all, two things must be emphasised:
First: The assessment of the tragic events that caused the deaths of these innocent civilians and the migration of millions of them had purely geopolitical consequences, neglecting the human dimension. In this regard, it is good that Turkey, in the last phase, has focused on a humanitarian ceasefire and opening a security corridor that allows for the evacuation of civilians.
Second: the need to emphasise that Turkey’s priority for tangible gains is for this tragedy to end as soon as possible and end the war with a ceasefire and peace as quickly as possible. Turkey’s ability to remain impartial and continue negotiations with the two sides will gradually decrease as the. Especially if Putin resorts to more violence to hide his strategic mistakes and failed aggression or converts Ukrainian cities to Aleppo or Grozny, Turkey’s continued dialogue with Russia, in this case, will become very difficult in terms of moral values and in terms of the requirements of the alliances to which it belongs.
In addition, Turkey’s scenario would be negative if one side emerged from the war with overwhelming absolute superiority. The complete victory of Ukraine would bring the Anglo-Saxon Alliance, the European Union and NATO to a higher geostrategic level and increase the bloc’s ability to create pressure and tension that would geopolitically restrict Turkey. On the other hand, Russia’s victory in the process will affect Turkey in many areas and files with which we cooperate, particularly in Syria, Libya and Karabakh. It will result in the gradual loss of some military points. Therefore, the end of both sides’ strengths, weaknesses and a short-term agreement will open Turkey to a more geopolitical horizon than expected.
Turkey will not abandon Ukraine or Russia after an active foreign policy and superior diplomacy based on national interests, nor will it neglect regional and global balances with the two friendly countries adjacent to the Black Sea. In this process, Turkey was at the forefront of its criticism of the international order, saying that “the world is bigger than five countries”, voiced loudly by President Erdogan for many years at the United Nations, has gained international justification, indicating that this Organization has become a fragile structure and is unable to condemn Russia in its Security Council.
The situation is such that today all the international organisations and institutions created by the cold war are dysfunctional. Indeed, one factor that encouraged Putin’s attack was the international community’s lack of response to the 2008 Georgian crisis as well as Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, as well as the imbalance in these institutions. The credibility of Turkey’s foreign policy on these issues and President Erdogan’s expression of all these facts before world public opinion are evident. That is why Ukraine has stated that it would like to see Turkey, as well as the United Kingdom and the United States of America, among the guarantor States of the final agreement.
Turkey is experiencing a stable political situation and its ability to control internal files to some extent, helping it to be an active country in the management of political mediation, with many of its surrounding spots of turmoil.
In fact, Turkey wants to solve all the problems in the geopolitical environment and it is in the interest of stability in Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Armenia and Azerbaijan, Turkey is affected by the crisis in Ukraine, considering its economic interests with the parties. Turkey has so far been able to use Russia as an important resource for its strategic independence and the Ukrainian crisis as a means of strengthening its economic and foreign policy positions.
Turkey’s mediation approach has enabled it to compete for a much higher international profile than its actual resources lack of real support in the region, difficult relations with neighbours, economic problems. This approach has even made Turkey able to overcome the structural constraints of its NATO membership.
Turkey regards Russia as a source of strengthening its role in international affairs and seeks to consolidate its position as a private transit centre, a unique negotiating platform and channel of communication with international structures with which Russia has ceased its dialogue or is unable to use it to solve the most important problems. Turkey thus proved its worth as an active political actor in the international arena, Ankara has managed to maximize its geopolitical benefits for Russia and the West more than ever. While Western countries initially sought to push Turkey to engage in their efforts to isolate Russia on the international scene, over time they became more convinced of the usefulness of Turkey’s remaining neutral. Besides its role in mediating the conclusion of the Black Sea grain corridor, Turkey was and remains the only party capable of talking with Russia.
The leaders’ realpolitik policy between Erdogan and Putin played an important role in further reducing the escalation of the conflict and leaving opportunities for diplomacy to act. Ankara has also been able to reduce the risk of a nuclear confrontation between Russia and the West by hosting meetings of Russia’s intelligence leaders and the United States on its territory. Although Turkey’s ability to play a greater role in mediation between Russia and Ukraine to end the war is limited, it is still able to play that role in the future, owing to the confidence it enjoys from Moscow and Kyiv.
This was also evident when President Erdogan was the first to contact President Putin during the recent rebellion attempt led by the leader of the Russian “Wagner” forces, Yevgeny Prigozhin, expressing his solidarity with him and the Russian state. That could be the reflection of a previous interactions when President Putin’s contacts President Erdogan two days after the failed coup on July 15th, 2016, informing him of his solidarity and Moscow’s solidarity against all internal and external conspiracies.
This position may also reflect the balance approach, which has considerable benefits for President Erdogan at home. Ankara’s ability to continue to employ a balance approach for its own benefit depends on three fundamental things: maintaining its mediator role in the war, focusing its efforts on balancing its interests with Russia and the West, and maintaining a military neutrality approach by continuing to operationalize an agreement until the end of the war. The balancing approach after a year of war is arguably made more durable by both Russia and the West’s need for it.
Turkey did not hesitate to reveal the nature of the decision-making processes that are closely related to achieving the public interest of the Turkish state, but in a diplomatic way that makes it maintain stable relations with neighbouring countries.
Turkey is very strategically positioned for all Russian accounts, especially in the Black Sea, which President Erdogan exploits in his regional and international bargains, including his relations with traditional allies in the West, particularly Washington, which does not want to push Erdogan more towards Russia than it has done so far. It has become clear that Moscow needs Ankara the most, not the other way around. Turkey’s role in the peaceful resolution of international conflicts is increasingly present in the international arena as a result of Turkey’s mediation efforts, as it will continue to make vigorous efforts on the international scene to conduct mediation work more effectively.
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