The NATO country Turkey is expanding its influence in Russia’s backyard. In Azerbaijan’s military successes in the war against Armenia for the Nagorno-Karabakh region since late September, Turkish combat drones and military advisers have played a decisive role. The Russian-brokered ceasefire agreement grants its Turkish partner Azerbaijan large territorial gains. Ankara was unable to enforce its request for Turkish troops to be stationed in the Caucasus.
But at least Turkish soldiers are said to be deployed alongside Russian officers at a command center in Azerbaijan. Furthermore, the opening of a road link in the region offers Ankara direct land access to the central area of Azerbaijan for the first time. Azerbaijan’s ties with its partner Turkey are becoming even closer.
This means that Turkish President Erdogan has achieved new success in his aggressive foreign policy. Turkey is involved in Syria and Libya, intervenes in the exploitation of gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean, has its air force attacked in Iraq and now has a foot in the door in the Caucasus as well.
Erdogan’s main objective everywhere is to ensure that his country has a say in regional issues. However, Turkey lacks a political vision that goes beyond short-term action.
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In the Caucasus, for example, some 2,000 Russian soldiers are now stationed that were not there before: it is doubtful that this corresponds to the long-term interests of Azerbaijan and Turkey. In Syria, Turkey remains dependent on Russia. Erdogan also acts without consulting his Western allies.
If new tensions arise with Russia in the Caucasus, Turkey could revert to NATO’s promise of assistance, but Europe and America will not want to help Erdogan out of a situation he caused himself.
Problems are also emerging in other areas. The EU wants to decide on economic sanctions against Turkey in early December due to the gas dispute in the Mediterranean. Under President-elect Biden, the United States could also impose new punitive measures against Ankara. Erdogan’s policy bill is still pending.