Global Insider: Russia-Turkey Relations

Russia and Turkey recently held the first meeting of the Russia-Turkey Joint Strategic Planning Group. The high-level coordination follows the signing of border-cooperation agreements in January. In an e-mail interview, Jenia Ustinova, associate for Russia and Eurasia at Eurasia Group, discussed Russia-Turkey relations.

WPR: Historically, what has been the nature of Russia-Turkey relations?

Jenia Ustinova: Russia and Turkey are not what one would call traditional allies -- in centuries past the Russian and Ottoman empires have often been at odds with each other, competing -- at time through armed conflict -- for territory, power and influence in the region. During the Cold War, the two states once again found themselves on opposite sides of history, with the Soviet Union leading the charge of communism, while Turkey joined the Euro-Atlantic security bloc. Relations improved with the dissolution of the Soviet bloc, although distrust lingered throughout the early 1990s, as both states saw Central Asia and the Caucasus as geographic areas of particular interest. Ankara and Moscow did not see eye to eye on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Azerbaijan, Turkey's main ally in the region, and Armenia, backed by Russia, or on the conflict between Moscow and Chechnya, the North Caucasus republic that at one point was fighting for autonomy from Russia.

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