why Turkey has become the arbiter of the conflict in the Black Sea

A Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 drone is shown during a military parade rehearsal on a street in kyiv on August 20, 2021.

Almost two months after the start of the war in Ukraine, relations between Turkey and this country have never seemed so solid, at the risk of undermining the policy of balance between the belligerents advocated by the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Based on its privileged relations with Moscow and kyiv, Ankara has positioned itself as the main mediator of the conflict, notably hosting two negotiation sessions between the two camps. But the longer the war lasts, the more difficult it will be to maintain this huge gap, as Ankara’s relations with kyiv are heating up while weakening with Moscow.

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The Turkish Bayraktar drone, delivered before and after the outbreak of hostilities, is praised in songs by the Ukrainian army, which used it extensively against Russian army tank columns. Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky, speak frequently on the phone. Turkish and Ukrainian diplomats got to know each other better during talks with Kremlin envoys on March 10 in Antalya and March 29 in Istanbul. The kyiv government is full of praise for the Turkish ally, described as its best supporter.

“We appreciate the support, humanitarian, diplomatic, moral, military, offered by Turkey, despite the fact that it does not apply sanctions. To support Ukraine, it has done more than any other NATO country.”explain to world a Ukrainian diplomat stationed in Ankara, concerned about anonymity. “Above all, we are extremely grateful to you for having closed your strait to all warships”, he points out. The decision was not easy to make, the Turkish side was not there for initially. ” We managed to convince them, they listened to us when we didn’t win. »

Guardian of the Straits

For this diplomat, it’s obvious. “Thanks to Ankara we were able to save Odessa”, the main Ukrainian port in the south of the country so far relatively untouched by Russian missiles and bombs. If Turkey had not played its role as guardian of the straits, closing the Dardanelles and the Bosporus to all warships on the fourth day of the war, February 28, Russia could have sent additional naval reinforcements to the area.

A major amphibious assault on the city on the Black Sea coast would then have been possible, condemning it to the disastrous fate of Mariupol, Chernihiv or Kharkiv, the cities of Ukraine reduced to ashes by Russian missiles and bombs. ” Russian military ships from the Far East and the North Sea fleet have been in the Mediterranean for several weeks, if they had been able to cross the strait, the situation would have been very different.the diplomat continues.

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