While the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Tuesday that Russia’s decision to recognise breakaway republics was ‘unacceptable’, many now wonder how a deepening crisis would likely effect Turkey, a NATO member with incredibly strong economic ties with Russia.
As Turkey is becoming more and more dependent on strategic imported goods and materials from Russia, its agricultural imported goods from Russia have been getting almost as crucial as its imported energy in recent years.
Turkey currently imports 40 percent of its natural gas consumption, and 25 percent of its oil consumption from Russia, and its first nuclear power plant is in the process of construction by Russian companies, meaning it has an energy dependency on its northern neighbour.
But Turkey is also the primary buyer of Russian wheat, that was 4.5 million metric tonnes (MT) in 2021.
It’s also ranked first in sunflower oil imports from Russia, having increased imported quotas by 42% in 2021, amounting to 1.1 billion US dollars.
Turkey tripled its importation of Russian barley in 2021 to 1.2 million MT and paid over 300 million US dollars for it.
Apart from its strategic energy and food exports to Turkey, Russia is ranked the first country in Turkey’s tourism revenues which constitute an important part of the Turkish economy and is an invaluable source for generating foreign currency funds especially in a time of foreign currency crisis.
Possible impacts on military operations
Another sphere of interaction between Russia and Turkey is the military operations or interventions both countries are involved in, including Syria, Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh.
Turkey’s position as an occupying force in northeast Syria is enabled in the most part by Russia’s green-light for Turkey’s use of the airspace, namely airstrikes that tips the scales in Turkey’s favour in its attacks targeting the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES).
So it’s only natural now that people wonder what the reaction of the Turkish political administration to Russia’s moves in eastern Ukraine is going to be, and whether any action will follow the official rhetoric.