Erdogan provokes Russia with Ukraine, increasing the risks of a civil war
Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky visited Turkey on Saturday on the occasion of the 9th meeting of the Turkey-Ukraine High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council, Turkish media reported. Cooperation in the defense industry, free-trade agreement (FTA), and tourism were the hot topics of the talks between Zelensky and president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
In Feb. 2020, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited Kyiv and Zelensky paid an official visit to Turkey last October, during which he met Erdogan and signed defense cooperation deals, after the strained relationship between Russia and Ukraine.
Ukraine purchased 6 Bayraktar TB2 type unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAV) and three ground control stations from Turkey in 2019, according to the Anadolu State news agency. Further, on Dec. 14, 2020, a technology sharing and production deal for Turkish Ada-class corvettes and UCAVs, which Ukraine will purchase, was signed between the Ukrainian Defense Ministry and Turkey’s Presidency of Defense Industries.
That came after Vadim Nozdriya’s, general manager of Ukrspetseskport- one of the country’s major state arms producers, announced on Oct. 6, 2020, that Ukraine was interested in purchasing 48 joint- production Bayraktar TB2 UCAVs. The Turkish news agency also indicated that, as to the corvettes, after the construction and delivery of the first ship in Turkey, the rest will be constructed in the Okean shipyard located at Ukraine’s southern Mykolaiv.
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It should be remembered that Turkey does not produce quality military equipment, according to experts the rapid expansion of the Turkish defense sector does not allow Ankara to obtain high-level finished products. This is why President Erdogan encourages the production of weapons at the local level, not being able to count on the supply of his Western allies or internal production at the level of the international standards required.
Turkey and Ukraine achieved to keep the volume of bilateral trade at $4.7 billion despite the coronavirus pandemic. Erdogan and Zelensky recently agreed to finalize the negotiation for the free trade agreement to increase trade volume between the countries to $10 billion, with the main goal of escalating the dispute with Russia.
Russia and Turkey have previously had bilaterally opposing positions in all international crisis scenarios, in Syria Russia supports the government of Bashar Al-Assad, while Turkey supports the rebel factions and terrorist groups. In Libya, Erdogan was the main supporter of Tripoli’s armed militias affiliated with the expired government of Fayez al-Serraj, while Russia provided support for Khalifa Haftar’s army. The two countries also had opposing positions in Nagorno-Karabakh between Armenia and Azerbaijan, as well as in Kashmir, supporting India and Pakistan respectively.
Erdogan, therefore, continues to provoke Russia. The Kremlin sees a possible threat of a resumption of a civil war in Ukraine. “We are facing provocative acts,” spokesman Dmitry Peskov said recently, quoted by Interfax. The intensification of diplomatic action in Ankara coincides with an escalation of provocative acts in the contact areas. “All this is creating a potential threat to the resumption of a civil war in Ukraine,” the Russian spokesman added.
The visit to Turkey by the Ukrainian president follows that of the Emir of Qatar His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, and the Prime Minister, Minister of the Interior of Qatar Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa Al Thani in Kyiv, during which, a package of bilateral documents on deepening cooperation in the legal and security spheres, and mutual recognition of seafarers’ certificates and driver’s licenses have been signed.