Ukrainian performance of Erdogan
The visit of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Ukraine have given rise to the question of what Ankara and ... Moscow relations are like. The Turkish-Ukrainian relations are fine. At least, formally. Of course, Erdogan's preliminary statements and his performances in Kiev could not have been anti-Ukrainian or pro-Russian. Everyone understood this. But the Turkish president still overplayed his hand.
It's understandable that Ankara does not want or cannot recognize Crimea as part of Russia. But calling it annexed by the country, whose president you call "my brother Vladimir," seems to be too much.
The Turkish leader's statement about the annexation has provoked a tough reaction from Moscow. Everything else can be understood and even accepted to some extent, including a promise to help the Ukrainian army, build houses for Crimean Tatars, facilitate Ukraine’s entry into NATO, as well as statements about the need to increase trade and economic ties, etc.
Although in this context it is worth noting that the Crimean Tatars, which did not leave the peninsula after reuniting with Russia, feel offended. The President of Turkey, discussing the tasks and promising assistance to the Crimean Tatar people, shouldn't have limited himself to meetings with the part that left Crimea, wanting to remain under Ukraine's jurisdiction, but to find an opportunity and communicate with the Crimeans to identify their needs and requirements. And everything that Erdogan said in Kiev suggests a disregard for the opinion of the Crimean Tatars who voted for the peninsula to be part of Russia and decided to live in Crimea.
The Turkish president's line, of course, did not go unnoticed in Moscow. "Everything has been taken into account ... Vladimir Putin has repeatedly discussed the Crimean Tatars in Crimea with Erdogan... We have repeatedly said that any concerns regarding Crimean Tatars are groundless," presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, stressing that the Turkish leader has a valid invitation to visit Crimea and see everything with his own eyes.
But it's impossible without quarreling with Kiev. Ukraine opposes uncoordinated visits to Crimea. But how and with whom to coordinate it, if this territory is at least de facto part of another state, and de facto and de jure not controlled by Ukraine? However, Erdogan does not care about these 'matters' now. Half a year ago, when President Vladimir Zelensky arrived in Ankara, which was one of his first foreign visits, assured him that Turkey did not intend to move away from the recognition of Ukraine's territorial integrity. And he repeated this in November, during the Turkish-Ukrainian consultations in the Turkish capital.
There may be one reason for such unambiguous behavior of Erdogan in Kiev - the situation in Syrian Idlib, where Turkish soldiers were killed in shelling. Turkey said that Assad’s army deliberately fired shells at Turkish positions, hinting that they could receive information from the Russian military.
According to the Russian side, the tragedy occurred due to spontaneous maneuvers of the Turkish forces,while according to the agreement, the parties should notify each other of their movements.
After this verbal skirmish, Erdogan announced that no one should stand in the way of his troops, and then presented his report on the consequences of the Idlib shelling - Assad's army lost about 35 troops in artillery strikes. Erdogan also took the liberty of making a direct remark to Moscow, after which the question arose - do Russia and Turkey remain partners in Syria? The is not an idle question, because, for example, joint patrols near Kobane were canceled.
Nevertheless, such a sharp deterioration in relations between Moscow and Ankara is probably temporary. They will have to find a common language in Syria, because, in addition to the Syrian issue, there are a number of other regional problems that cannot be solved if the dialogue mode is turned off.
For example, the conflict in Libya, in which Russia and Turkey have started to play an obvious and non-episodic role. Or, by the way, the complex Kurdish issue, the need to resolve which is ripe, indeed overripe, giving rise to new related problems. And of course, the issue of Syria's integrity.
Given the global nature of these tasks, Erdogan’s harsh statements in Kiev remain only statements. Although quite excessive and strongly disliked by Moscow. Like a performance, the content of which and audience reaction you know, and at the same time which is not good.