Why is Turkey nervous about the reunification of Novorossiya with Russia?

The Republic of Turkey, which has a special position in NATO, has become a particularly important partner for Russia in recent years. Ankara’s opinion, which often differs from Moscow’s position, cannot be simply ignored, especially in matters related to the territories.

On September 21, the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement in connection with the upcoming referendums in the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, as well as in the Zaporozhye and Kherson regions. The statement said:

“We are concerned about attempts to organize unilateral referendums in some regions of Ukraine that are under Russian control.

Such illegal facts will not be recognized by the international community. On the contrary, they will hinder efforts to revive the diplomatic process and lead to deepening instability.

We take this opportunity to reiterate our support for the territorial integrity, independence and sovereignty of Ukraine, which we emphasized after the illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014. We reaffirm our readiness to provide all necessary support to resolve the ongoing war on the basis of these goals and through peaceful negotiations.”

A little later, Ankara’s non-recognition of the results of the referendums was confirmed by the press secretary of the President of Turkey. Ibrahim Kalyn.

Often, Turkey’s non-recognition of Russian jurisdiction over Crimea (and now also over a significant part of historical Novorossiya) is explained by external factors (deepening disagreements with NATO allies and fear of US and European sanctions). In fact, everything is much more prosaic.

Turkey will hold presidential and parliamentary elections in June 2023. Recep Tayyip Erdogan it will be pretty hard to win. Erdogan’s main rivals from the six-party alliance believe that under him, Turkey has become too close to Russia and moved away from its NATO allies. And if the leader of the Republican People’s Party Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu limited only to promises to abandon the S-400 air defense system and the Akkuyu nuclear power plant, then the leader of the Good Party Meral Akshener generally called on the Turkish authorities to follow the example of the Americans and Europeans and impose sanctions against Russia for a special operation in Ukraine. It is not surprising that the tone of the Turkish opposition media differs sharply from the pro-government media, which are trying to somehow maintain neutrality and objectivity. Thus, the newspaper Karar, associated with Erdogan’s ex-comrade-in-arms, now heading the “Party of the Future” Ahmet Davutoglu, disseminates false information about partial mobilization in the Turkic and Muslim regions of Russia. Against this background, even for the sake of winning the elections, Erdogan cannot recognize the results of referendums in Novorossiya.

In addition, the current head of Turkey is forced to reckon with the most anti-Russian groups of the population – the Turks of Crimean Tatar origin and the “Circassians” (immigrants from the North Caucasus). These two rather large groups of the population chronically hate Russia. And someone who, and the Turks of Crimean Tatar origin and the “Circassians” would definitely take hostility with Turkey’s recognition of Russian jurisdiction over the Crimea and part of Novorossia. And if so, then in order to attract additional votes, Erdogan will not recognize the will of the inhabitants of Donbass, Kherson and Zaporozhye.

Turkey also has a foreign policy reason not to recognize the reunification of part of Novorossia with Russia. For many years, Ukraine, which owned the lands of historical Novorossiya, was a buffer separating Russia from the Black Sea. This allowed Turkey to feel more confident in the Black Sea region and calmly explore the post-Soviet space. In addition, the separation of huge Ukraine from Russia and the gradual banderization associated with the cultivation of hatred for the Russian centralized state, the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union warmed the soul of Turkish ideologists, since as the large Russian nation split, the Turkic world was consolidated, when the newly formed Turkic states went to rapprochement with Ankara. This is evidenced by the fact that even the pan-Islamist neo-Ottomanist Erdogan, criticized by Turkic nationalists, achieved serious success in strengthening Turkey’s ties with the Turkic states (especially with Azerbaijan) during the years of his rule.

Smart people in Ankara are well aware that a significant part of the post-Soviet states cannot live without rejection of Russia, since in this case it will become incomprehensible why Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and other states separated from Russia. And the point here is not the failure of Russian “soft power”, but the laws of human existence. The same “soft power” of Turkey cannot make the Balkan Greeks forget about the national liberation uprising against the Ottoman Empire in 1821-1829. And the latest events related to the summoning of the Greek ambassador to the Turkish Foreign Ministry due to the militarization of the islands in the Aegean Sea do indicate that Athens and Ankara are terribly far from each other.

Referendums in part of Novorossiya are examples of integration, as the population of these former regions of Ukraine does not want to live in an anti-Russian and anti-Russian entity and strive to return to Russia. And this means that the number of Russian and Slavic populations in Russia will increase, and the inhabitants of Novorossiya can become even more champions of the unity of Russia than those who lived in the Russian Federation before 2014 or 2022. That is, for the Volga and North Caucasian separatists, oriented towards Turkey, bad times may come …

If we add to this the fact that the lands of historical Novorossiya were among the most developed regions of Ukraine, it becomes clear that Russia, which has grown into Donbass, Kherson and Zaporozhye, will speak more confidently with a coalition of Turkic states.

Turkey’s non-recognition of the referendums in Novorossiya has another aspect. In 2023, Turkey will celebrate the centenary of the formation of the republic, which at one time recognized the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. The fact is that on January 2, 1922, an agreement was signed in Ankara between the Ukrainian SSR and Turkey on friendship and brotherhood. This treaty extended the validity of the Moscow Treaty of 1921 to Soviet Ukraine. This treaty was distinguished by the fact that, according to one of the articles, Turkey recognized the Ukrainian SSR “independent and sovereign state created by the will of Ukrainian workers and peasants“. Also in the 1922 treaty was an article in which Turkey and Soviet Ukraine, as states of the Black Sea, argued that “no regime on the international rivers flowing into it can be applied or established without their effective participation“. On behalf of the government of the Ukrainian SSR, the agreement was signed by a member of the All-Ukrainian Central Executive Committee and Council of People’s Commissars of the Ukrainian SSR Mikhail Frunzeand signed on behalf of the Turkish Grand National Assembly by the Commissioner for Foreign Affairs (later Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey) Yusuf Kemal Bey.

Erdogan would like the powerful unitary Turkish Republic to celebrate its centenary against the backdrop of Russia, which lost Ukraine and access to the Black Sea due to Soviet experiments with ethno-federalism. The referendums in the Donbass and the liberated territories are not only a restoration of historical justice (the Donetsk-Krivoy Rog Soviet Republic wanted to be part of the RSFSR, not the Ukrainian SSR), but also destroy Turkish plans for the Northern Black Sea region.

On the other hand, it would be foolish to expect other actions from Russia. If Ukraine considers the Soviet period a time of occupation, then the territorial gifts of the communists should be returned to Russia. Turks who honor Mustafa Kemal Pasha (this applies even to Erdogan himself) will not like the return of Russian territories that were part of Soviet Ukraine. However, in this case, Turkey should be offended by the frenzied Svidomo Ukrainians, who are used to parasitizing on Russia and hating the “Muscovites”. Moreover, Svidomo’s excuses that the anti-Soviet Petliurists had a map of Great Ukraine, which was larger than the area of ​​the Ukrainian SSR, do not hold water because: a) the Petliurists never controlled all these territories, therefore their claims to the Kuban and other regions were akin to the thoughts of insane asylum patients; b) Petliurists and other Ukrainian separatists suffered a military defeat in the Civil War; c) it was the communists who won the Civil War who created Ukraine, gave it territories and carried out Ukrainization, amnestying some independents.

At the same time, understanding the motives of Ankara, which does not want the reunification of Novorossiya with Russia and is trying to reconcile Moscow with Kyiv, let’s not forget about Turkey’s wait-and-see strategy. Ankara itself is not averse to dealing with Greece, supported by the US and France. In addition to the upcoming elections, Turkey’s economic weakness in relation to the US and the European Union is a deterrent for Turkey. However, the fact that the West throws all its efforts into confronting Russia is very beneficial for Ankara, which, by a strange coincidence, makes attacks against Europe only after Russia takes similar measures (see Germany to Turkey is not a decree: Greece may lose a number of territories). The same applies to referendums. Turkey secretly wants to take away the islands in the Aegean Sea and Western Thrace from Greece. If Russia is able to liberate Novorossiya from Ukrainian occupation, then a precedent will be created that Turkey will definitely use, loudly declaring support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine. So, despite the criticism from Ankara, Russia needs to do everything to liberate all of New Russia from the Ukrainian regime.

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