Turkey Proposes Joint Military Programs with Ukraine Despite Ties with Russia

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses lawmakers at the parliament in Ankara, Turkey, Tuesday, March 22, 2011. Erdogan said that he has concerns about possible NATO military action in Libya, but he has not flatly opposed such a mission. "Turkey will not point arms at the Libyan people," he …
AP/Burhan Ozbilici

Ukraine and Turkey have jointly proposed elevating the level of defense cooperation between the two. A Ukrainian delegation recently traveled to Ankara to put plans together.

“There is a lot we can do together… work jointly. Ukraine has an established, proven industry with impressive capabilities… which can assist some of our indigenous programs,” announced a senior Turkish procurement official.

Ukraine sent the delegation “under the umbrella of Ukroboronprom, a state-owned defense conglomerate bringing together 130 companies and engineering institutions” to speak with Turkish officials. They met several times before both sides “agreed to sign a memorandum of understanding.” The programs include missile defense, armor, tanks, space, engines, satellites, and jets.

“This can be the beginning of a long-term, mutually beneficial partnership,” claimed another Turkish agent. “There is a long way ahead. If the two sides manage to handle a successful takeover a promising cruise will be ahead. The first year of talks will be crucial.”

Cooperation with Ukraine complicates Turkey’s relationship with Russia. Moscow continues to violate Ukraine’s sovereignty and sends Russian soldiers to help the pro-Russian soldiers in the east. Yet, Turkey remains close with Russia with plans to build a pipeline through the country to allow Moscow to bypass Ukraine to send gas to Europe. The South Stream will “send 63 billion cubic meters through a proposed link under the Black Sea to Turkey.” They originally wanted to build the South Stream through Bulgaria, but the European Union opposed the deal and it was dropped. Bulgaria is a member of the EU while Turkey is not.

“Our European partners have been informed of this and now their task is to create the necessary gas transport infrastructure from the Greek and Turkish border,” stated Alexei Miller, head of the Russian state oil giant Gazprom.

During a visit to Kyiv, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko “warned Erdoğan about the risks of cooperating with Russia to build a ‘Turkish Stream’ pipeline to carry natural gas to Europe via Turkey and bypass Ukraine.” Officials believe Moscow is using the pipeline to bribe a NATO member. Putin and Erdoğan signed a memorandum in December “that stipulates that Turkey and Russia will consider the project.” Sergiy Korsunsky, the Ukrainian Ambassador to Turkey,” claimed Kyiv is “100 percent sure” the pipeline will never be built.

“The Turkish Stream is aimed at damaging, not supporting, Turkey’s desire to become an energy hub because when you become a hub you cannot have only Russian gas,” he said. “But if we hypothetically imagine that this Turkish Stream is built, then the Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline [TANAP, which would carry Azerbaijani gas to Europe via Georgia and Turkey] is no longer needed.”

At the same visit, Erdoğan, a Muslim, promised the cash strapped country a €46.2 million ($50,324,967), but also asked Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to preserve the rights of the Crimean Tatars. He did not fully attack Putin, but made veiled warnings to Moscow.

“Turkey is taking all necessary measures to maintain peace in the Black Sea region: on the water; in the air; and on the ground,” he said. “As a NATO member, we are taking all necessary precautions against all threats.”

Russia annexed Crimea, home to the Muslim minority Tatars, in March 2014. They suffered numerous human rights violations during the time of Josef Stalin and many believe Putin will enact the same violence upon them.


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