Meeting of President of Ukraine Zelensky with President of Turkey Erdogan in Kiev, February 3, 2022 Valentin Ogirenko/Reuters

Meeting of President of Ukraine Zelensky with President of Turkey Erdogan in Kiev, February 3, 2022 Valentin Ogirenko/Reuters

Official visit of the President of Turkey R.T. Erdogan to Ukraine has finished. The visit took place against the backdrop of worsening US and NATO relations with Russia over Ukraine. During the 10th summit, timed to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the establishment of Turkish-Ukrainian diplomatic relations, Erdogan and President of Ukraine Zelensky held a meeting behind closed doors, discussing economic, trade and political relations, and signed bilateral agreements. In fact, the main purpose of the visit was Turkey's mediation mission to find ways to overcome tensions between Ukraine and Russia through dialogue.

Can Turkey achieve effective results in this direction? It is very difficult to answer this question in the affirmative. Because the current problem is key to the formation of a new world order.

Therefore, neither side will give up its strategy so easily. At the same time, repeated attempts have been made to resolve the military-political crisis between Russia and Ukraine. However, it has not been possible to achieve a change in the positions of the parties or find a peaceful way to resolve the conflict.

Neither the OSCE nor the Normandy format (Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine), created in December 2014 to resolve the military-political crisis in Ukraine, could not find an effective solution. Three years ago, on December 9, 2019, Putin and Zelensky met for the first time in Paris with the participation of the presidents of Germany and France.

At the time, there were growing hopes for a political dialogue with the withdrawal of Russian-linked forces from eastern Ukraine. During negotiations in this format, the most pressure was exerted on the Ukrainian president. They tried to convince him of the need to amend the Constitution of Ukraine. With the formation of the Lugansk and Donetsk People's Republics, the importance of a political solution was emphasized.

After the 44-day war between Armenia and Azerbaijan in 2020, the Ukrainian state did not hide its intention to restore its territorial integrity through military-political means. Taking advantage of the opportunity provided by international law and the process of the formation of a new geopolitical order, it launched active political, diplomatic and military preparations to restore its territorial integrity. Unlike in previous years, the Biden administration's tougher stance on Russia has given hope for new opportunities for Ukraine.

The  main difficulty in resolving the military-political crisis between Ukraine and Russia is that this problem has already become an instrument of a more global confrontation. A bilateral solution to the problem that has become a US-NATO-Russia confrontation does not look realistic.

After the collapse of the USSR, the United States actually played a decisive role in the military-political structure of the world. After the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, NATO was expected to complete its mission. However, despite the disappearance of the Soviet threat, NATO's eastward expansion did not stop. 16 NATO members participated in the military competition with the USSR, and after the collapse of the USSR, 14 new members were admitted to NATO. Since April 2004, 11 countries have joined NATO. In fact, it was a rapid advance to the borders of Russia.

Of course, it was to be expected that Russia, gradually gaining strength and having military-strategic parity, would not leave this unanswered.

There is still no unequivocal answer to the question - what was the need for NATO expansion to the east after the collapse of the USSR? It is also debatable whether the existence of NATO serves the purpose of global peace or tension?

Currently, the most decisive competition is over Ukraine. Neither the US nor Russia can retreat from the Ukrainian crisis. Russia calls Ukraine its "red line", and the US does not accept this "red line". The geopolitical fate of the retreating side is obvious.

If Ukraine becomes a member of NATO, this will significantly weaken Russia's international influence and even push it out of the arena of global military-political confrontation. Therefore, Russia will not hesitate to take even the most critical steps. From this point of view, the possibility of war is quite real.

Over the past 10 years, the United States has established major military bases in Romania and Bulgaria. In addition, special forces and troops are concentrated in the Baltic countries. In particular, they created a military fleet and a base on the Black Sea on the coast of Romania (Constanta) and Bulgaria (Burgas). Russia feels threatened by the US and feels under siege.

The last NATO summit in Brussels on June 14, 2021 was also remembered with special messages for Russia. NATO named terrorism as the main source of threats, and Russia as the second one. The principles put forward by the United States in the framework of the Strategic Stability Dialogue were unanimously supported by other NATO members.

NATO aims to complete its new strategy against Russia by 2030. In order to deter Russia, it intends to build up its defense capabilities, provide comprehensive military assistance to its allies, and also use force against Russia within the framework of the Rules of Engagement and use certain specific capabilities. At the same time, initiatives were put forward to restore the two ideological poles. An ideological line was launched between democratic and authoritarian regimes.

However, this war will not be a complete victory. And everyone can lose. Large European countries that are strategic allies of the United States also do not want a military confrontation. They, too, can suffer from the war.

It cannot be said with certainty that Turkey's mediation mission will lead to tangible results, but it is likely to be more productive than the OSCE and the Normandy format.

Turkey is not only the main military force of NATO, but also an important Black Sea power. It openly supports the territorial integrity of Ukraine and provides military assistance to Ukraine. At the same time, in recent years, it has established a rapidly developing serious cooperation with Russia in the geopolitical, economic, trade, energy and humanitarian spheres.

An important role in this initiative in particular can be played by the high level of personal relations between Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Most importantly, the possibility of a military conflict is more real than in previous years. And this can lead to unimaginable disasters for the parties. It will also become a trigger for very dangerous military clashes both in the west and in the east.

Erdogan's visit to Ukraine aroused interest in the world, including in Azerbaijan. In any case, peace initiatives and opportunities for dialogue are much better than war. Ukrainian President Viktor Zelensky's positive reaction to Erdogan's mediation initiative, his gratitude to him, as well as his emphasis on openness to dialogue should be appraised. New opportunities for dialogue may arise during the forthcoming visit of the President of Russia to Turkey.

Azerbaijan is a strategic ally of Turkey and Ukraine. Russian-Turkish and Azerbaijani relations are also highly appreciated. If the process of dialogue and settlement begins between the parties, this may have a positive impact on Turkey and Azerbaijan.

Nasimi Mammadli

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