why Turkey has become the arbiter of the Black Sea conflict

Almost two months into the war in Ukraine, relations between Turkey and that country have never appeared so robust, at the risk of undermining the belligerent balance policy advocated by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Due to 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 drags on, the more difficult it becomes to maintain this wide rift as Ankara’s ties with Kyiv warm while they weaken with Moscow.

Also read the analysis: Article reserved for our subscribers Between NATO, Russia and Ukraine, Erdogan positions himself as a peacemaker

Turkey’s Bayraktar drone, delivered before and after the outbreak of hostilities, is lauded in songs by the Ukrainian army, which used it extensively against Russian army armored columns. Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy often talk on the phone. Turkish and Ukrainian diplomats got to know each other better during talks with Kremlin emissaries on March 10 in Antalya and March 29 in Istanbul. The Kiev government is full of praise for the Turkish ally, which it calls the best support.

“We appreciate the humanitarian, diplomatic, moral and military support that Turkey is offering even as it does not apply the sanctions. It has done more to support Ukraine than any other NATO country.”to explain World a Ukrainian diplomat based in Ankara who worries about anonymity. “Most of all, we are very grateful to him for closing his straits to all warships.”, he clarifies. The decision was not easy, the Turkish side was initially not for it. ” We managed to convince them they heard us when it wasn’t won. »

Guardian of the Strait

For this diplomat it is 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. Had Turkey failed in its role as guardian of the Straits and closed the Dardanelles and Bosphorus to all warships on the fourth day of the war, February 28, Russia could have sent additional naval reinforcements to the area.

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

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