By Lili Bayer
Summary Turkey and Russia are rivals with diverging priorities in the Black Sea, Caucasus and Syria. Nevertheless, both sides have an interest in avoiding a confrontation with each other in the short to medium term.
When Turkish forces shot down a Russian military jet on Nov. 24, relations between Ankara and Moscow seemingly entered a crisis. Harsh words were exchanged. Russia imposed sanctions, the country’s travel agencies stopped selling packages to Turkey, planes stopped flying to Turkish tourist destinations and a visa regime was reintroduced. Turkey created delays for Russian ships entering the Bosporus. However, it is important to look beyond immediate gestures and at the strategic goals and challenges facing both countries. Geography has made Russia and Turkey rivals, and they have different objectives in the Caucasus, Syria and beyond, but right now it is not in either country’s interest to engage in a conflict.
Geography Creates Competitor