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Turkey’s persistent watering down of anti-Russian language leaves NATO in bind

Ankara defends its position on Moscow on the grounds that it has to manage its relationship with its powerful northeastern neighbor.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a joint press conference with Serbian President (unseen) after their bilateral meeting at the Nato Alliance's headquarters in Brussels on May 17, 2021.

Turkey has repeatedly softened language in NATO statements condemning Russia, part of a broader pattern of muscle-flexing obstructionism within the Western security pact, and of fellow NATO members rolling over, diplomatic sources with knowledge of the dynamic have told Al-Monitor. The latest such example was on display in a May 26 statement by the 30-member alliance decrying Belarus’ forcing down of a Ryanair flight to arrest dissident journalist Roman Protasevich and his partner. The two-paragraph long statement did not include any of the punitive steps being pushed for by Baltic states and Poland because of Turkish resistance, Reuters reported Thursday.

The diplomatic sources confirmed the news agency’s version of events whereby Turkey said it would veto any language that called for support for Western sanctions on Belarus, the release of political prisoners and suspending NATO cooperation with the former Soviet state, which is closely allied with Russia.

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