A few hours after the end of the March 24 Extraordinary NATO summit of world leaders to stop Russia its invasion of Ukraine, I was at a Presidential Symphony Orchestra’s Concert Hall in Ankara for a charity concert. Well known pianist Alexander Romanovsky, who is Russian from his father’s side and Ukrainian from his mother’s side, performed Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Tekfen Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Uzbek Conductor Aziz Shokhakimov. The collected money from the concert to be donated to Unicef’s Ukraine Emergency Fund.
During the intermission, I and Dori Kiss Kalafat from the Tekfen Foundation Board of Directors had the opportunity to have a small conversation with Romanovsky. We watched the orchestra’s performance of pieces from Prokofiev’s ballet Romeo and Juliet in the second part. Romanovsky said that he currently lives in Italy have relatives in Ukraine. He couldn’t believe what had happened to them. “It is a tragedy,” he said.
I had read the final declaration of the NATO summit published by the leaders, before going to the concert. I read what President Tayyip Erdogan said at the press conference he held before he left Brussels, as well as the statements of other leaders after the concert.
The summary is this: NATO, the Western military alliance, says to Ukraine “Hold on” and “Stop” to Russia. It promises support to Ukraine to resist, excluding sending troops. So, will Putin, who practices power politics, listen to this?
It’s easy to say “stop”
What is the easiest right now is to say, as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky did, that if you don’t send troops, if you don’t allow Ukraine to join NATO, then Russian President Putin won’t listen to the “stop” warning.
That’s why, the day before the extraordinary summit, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that NATO’s sending troops to Ukraine, even in the guise of peacekeepers, could be considered a reason for war. A day before that, Putin’s Spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said that if they perceive an existential threat to Russia, Putin may resort to nuclear weapons. NATO sending troops to Ukraine or inviting membership is what NATO does not want right now. That is, the war expanfing out of Ukraine, perhaps turning into the Third World War. No one is willing to go directly to war with Russia for Ukraine. Just as we have seen before in Syria: the war was localized within Syrian territory. Its spread to Turkey was prevented by cross-border operations and building a wall.
Ukraine in the north, Syria in the south
Turkey is on the danger line in Syria in the south and in the Ukraine Crisis in the north. Both have Russia in the lead role. For this reason, NATO (such as the Baltic Sea in the North) works on special measures for the Black Sea. Turkish government has become a part of this by evoking Montreux Convention in straits while ironically 103 retired admirals who had published a memorandum calling for the Montreux Convention to be protected are under trial for conspiring against the unity of the state.
NATO is trying to deter Russia from at least attacking NATO territory by sending more troops in Poland and the Baltic states. At the same time, it promises to send technical equipment to Ukraine against cyber attacks and nuclear, biological and chemical attacks. In parallel, US President Biden says, “they would respond,” if Russia were to use chemical weapons. Russia heard this from the mouth of US President Barack Obama in 2012. Bashar Assad used it, Obama swallowed what he said, and Moscow returned to the Middle East theatre through Syria years later.
I do not think that Putin will stop by saying “stop” with such warnings. The effect of the banking siege, which I call the Financial Nuclear Bombs, which goes far beyond the ineffective economic sanctions of the Western world, will show itself after a while.
Turkey and it’s balance policy
In this picture, it would be beneficial for Turkey to ignore the incentives of the USA and the EU and continue to act cautiously about the Ukraine Crisis. It is obvious that Turkey, which has been isolated until recently with its “precious loneliness” policy, has once again come to the fore in international politics with the foreign policy it has followed in the Ukraine Crisis.
Already, President Erdogan said at the press conference that relations with both Ukraine and Russia would continue. He repeated Zelensky’s request for Turkey’s mediation and peace-guarantoring. There was no objection from Russia, but apparently Putin had neither objected nor approved yet. It is emphasized that security threats, including terrorism, should be handled with a “360 degree”, that is, a total understanding, in NATO. It was already included in NATO’s 2014 and 2021 resolutions, but it was not fully implemented.
Erdogan, on the other hand, accused the United States, especially Western European countries, of hindering Turkey’s defense industry efforts.
On the other hand, Turkey is getting more active in its search for an alternative solution to the S-400, which is its biggest problem with the USA.
Is the ‘S-400 alternative’ warming up with France and Italy?
Erdogan met with both French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian President Prime Minister Draghi in Brussels. Draghi then spoke of reviving tripartite cooperation with Turkey and France. He did not give details, but the work of co-designing and producing a new model of NATO-compatible SAMP-T air defense missiles, an alternative to the S-400, which has come to the fore before the feasibility study, may begin again. Since the S-400 and F-35 lockdown could not be overcome, could the US have lifted its implicit blockade on this project? Time shows us.
Time will tell what the implementation results of the NATO Summit, which can be said that it has not produced a short-term solution at the moment, will bring. The longer the crisis, the more damage the Turkish economy will take. This gives us one more reason not to get caught up in adventurous goals for the sake of a short day’s profit.