Diverging from its NATO allies, Turkey has been positioning itself as an alternative platform in the face of the Russian invasion of Ukraine through a dual approach composed of steps that have potential to antagonize both sides. While Ankara has challenged Russian military calculus by supplying combat drones to Ukraine, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is also trying to raise the prospect of deeper cooperation with Russia as the country’s economy is crippling due to the Western sanctions.
The Ukraine crisis certainly has the potential to alter the course of ties between Russia and Turkey. Russian leader Vladimir Putin may counter Erdogan's double game by his own game plan in a similar fashion when a Russian jet was downed by Turkey in Syria in 2015 — by waiting for the right time to take its revenge and in the meantime benefitting from Turkey as a lifeline for the beleaguered Russian economy amid Western sanctions. Erdogan’s approach hardly guarantees a “safe game” for Ankara, particularly in possible encounter fronts with Russia including Syria and Libya.