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Erdogan’s NATO moves agitate Russia but don’t spell Turkey's sharp shift to West

The Turkish leader is navigating Ankara’s relationships in ways that he believes best benefit Turkey’s interests and above all his own political survival.
President of Lithuania Gitanas Nauseda, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg (R).

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s “U-turn” on Sweden’s accession to NATO during the alliance summit in Vilnius has prompted a flurry of Western commentary on how Turkey may be pivoting away from Russia and returning to the Western fold. “How long can [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s ‘special relationship’ with Erdogan last?” asked the Lowy Institute. “Russia’s war might have a new casualty: The Putin-Erdogan bond,” opined The Washington Post. Not everyone agrees.

The Kremlin will certainly not have been too pleased by the images of Erdogan and President Joe Biden all smiles during their more than an hour-long meeting. Biden hailed the Turkish leader for his “courage, leadership and diplomacy” after Erdogan said he would tell the Turkish parliament to ratify Sweden’s membership. Biden even posted a video on his official Twitter feed singing the Turkish strongman’s praises. Erdogan called Biden “a dear friend."


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