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Russia and Turkey: Frenemies with Benefits!


The tangled web of diplomatic duplicity grows even more complex in the high-stakes drama between Russia and Turkey!

On the surface, Erdogan and Putin are publicly butting heads and trading barbs like salty foes. But behind the veil of animosity, business is booming.

Despite the sabre-rattling and name-calling, trade between the two nations is projected to top a staggering $65 billion this year. 

You see, while maintaining the facade of adversaries on the global stage, the Kremlin and the Sultanate have been secretly collaborating to pump up their economic partnership.

Over the past five years, Russian-Turkish trade has exploded, nearly tripling in size.

While feigning conflicting agendas, Erdogan and Putin have been finding creative workarounds to advance mutual business interests.

Pipelines rapidly deliver Russian natural gas to Turkey non-stop, nuclear power plants are steadily coming online, construction deals keep flowing. This clandestine trade affair has been heating up!

But how long can this unlikely fellowship keep its delicate economic dance behind closed doors? Will realpolitik prevail, or will tensions ultimately overwhelm opportunity? Can an affinity for profit and pragmatism overcome ideologies and egos?

The economic ties between Russia and Turkey continue to expand, despite the ups and downs in their political relationship. According to Russia’s consul general in Istanbul, bilateral trade is expected to exceed $65 billion in 2023, matching last year’s level.

This growth in trade is noteworthy given the broader geopolitical tensions between the two countries. On the public stage, Russian and Turkish leaders posture and spar verbally, with relations seeming to ebb and flow. Yet behind the scenes, pragmatic economic cooperation moves forward.

Over the last 5-6 years, Russian-Turkish trade has nearly tripled in size. What’s driving this? It comes down to mutual benefit. Turkey looks to Russia for stable energy supplies, especially natural gas., 

Andrey Borovkov, who is a Counsellor of the Law Firm GRATA International, and Head of Corporate practice) said: ‘Finally, gas deliveries are made through the TurkStream gas pipeline in the volume desired by Türkiye and there is potential.’

Russia sees Turkey’s geographic position as ideal for exporting gas to Europe.

So while Russia and Turkey play global rivals, they also cultivate business ties. Pipelines like TurkStream deliver Russian gas to Turkey. Nuclear power plants, construction projects and other deals continue. Still, tensions simmer below the surface.

The future of Russian-Turkish relations contains uncertainties. Can growing economic links overcome political friction and competing agendas? As the story evolves, trade seems to be bringing these historical regional powers closer, even as points of contention remain.

This made the Tensions rise in this economic saga as the United States inserts itself between Russia and Turkey!

The latest development – America threatened penalties against financial institutions engaging with Russia. This sent shockwaves beyond Russia, interrupting trade between Moscow and Ankara.

While not directly targeting energy, the US order has obstructed payments for Russian oil imports into Turkey. It has also disrupted money flows for a wide range of Turkish exports to Russia.

So even though Turkey did not provoke the ire of the US, it finds itself entangled in this financial feud nonetheless.  America’s maneuver has unintentionally thrown sand in the gears of Turkish trade.

Now commerce between the Bear and the Crescent faces new friction. Transactions for Russian crude and Turkish goods face delays or rejection as banks grow hesitant. Uncertainty swirls around these once reliable trade channels.

Turkey treads with care in this complex situation not of its own making. Turkish leaders aim to preserve economic ties with Russia while avoiding the watchful eye and long arm of American sanctions.

This challenging balancing act continues as Turkey is caught between the colliding agendas of powers much larger than itself. The economic intrigues deepen as this tangled triangle strains Turkey’s trade.

Now The United States has inserted itself into the complex economic relations between Russia and Turkey, further complicating matters.

Seeking to punish Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine, Washington has threatened sanctions on financial institutions that enable Russian trade. This American maneuver has caused unintended turbulence in Russian-Turkish commercial ties.

The U.S. aims to curb the Kremlin’s revenues that fund its war effort, while avoiding any spikes in domestic gas prices. However, in practice, sanctioning Russian trade is proving messy.

Beyond Russia’s borders, payments for its oil exports and other trade have met roadblocks as banks turn wary of handling transactions. Not only Turkey, but India, China and others are finding their Russian business dealings obstructed.

While targeting Moscow’s wallet, America’s wide-reaching financial power has snared some unintended victims. Countries like Turkey now face trade disruptions despite not provoking Washington’s ire directly.

With the U.S. sanctions web continuing to widen, Turkey and other nations must weigh their Russian economic ties against the risks of running afoul of American penalties. The political and economic calculus only grows more complex from Ankara to Beijing as the United States asserts its financial might.

According to data, Russia provided Turkey with 8.9 million metric tons of crude oil and 9.4 million tons of diesel fuel in the first 11 months of 2022.

This illustrates Russia’s dominance, supplying over half of Turkey’s external energy needs. It highlights Turkey’s reliance on imported energy, especially from its northern neighbor.

Turkey has limited domestic fossil fuel reserves. With complex geopolitics constraining its options, Turkey has embraced Russia as its primary oil and gas provider.

For Russia, Turkey represents a major export market, both for revenue and for influence. As Turkey’s dominant supplier, Russia gains political leverage.

Yet Turkey sees few alternatives, given its location and energy deficits. So it continues to rely on Russian energy, despite the complicated relationship between these historic regional rivals.

This interdependence seems set to continue, unless the current economic and political tensions upset today’s energy calculus. For now, pragmatism rules as Russia fuels Turkey’s economy, despite turbulent ties.

On the surface, business carries on – tankers still flow, rails still run, trucks still haul. Yet behind the scenes, payments face new friction that threatens to gum up the works.

It all began when the US slapped new sanctions on Russia, warning firms worldwide against enabling its war machine. Suddenly, Turkish banks grew hesitant, carefully reviewing clients and transactions.

Paying Russia has become a delicate dance for Turkey. Its banks tread cautiously, wary of missteps bringing US penalties down on them.

The disruption isn’t obvious at first glance. Most oil shipments continue apace. But payments now face delays, revisions, rejections. Non-oil trade feels it too, machinery exports grinding to a halt.

Though Turkey remains neutral, American financial firepower constrains its choices. Trapped between the clashing titans, Turkish trade suffers collateral damage.

Leaders in Ankara and Moscow try smoothing out the snags, seeking workarounds so business can flow. But uncertainty persists as long as US sanctions loom.

The stakes are far greater than just transactions. Russia aims to splinter Turkey from the West. Turkey seeks to balance ties. For now pragmatism prevails, but future shockwaves remain anyone’s guess.

This economic saga continues as Turkish trade walks the tightrope between East and West. 

On the other side of the globe, President Biden faces growing criticism for America’s expansive aid to Ukraine, especially from Republican voters. Many see it draining U.S. coffers amid economic anxiety. Yet Biden persists, risking political blowback.

Several factors seem to drive Biden’s uncompromising stance. First, upholding the international order. Allowing Russia to invade with impunity could encourage aggression worldwide. Second, Biden aims to weaken Russia as a global adversary. Depleting its military in Ukraine serves U.S. interests.

Domestically, Biden wants to avoid appearing “soft” on Russia or wavering in resolve. But this hawkishness comes at a cost, with sanctions disrupting global trade.

Would Trump have handled this differently? Perhaps. His “America First” outlook prioritized domestic issues and downplayed commitments abroad. A more nationalist approach may have refused direct military aid to Ukraine.

However, the international outcry likely would have compelled engagement either way. And inaction could embolden Russia and other hostile powers. Differences between Biden and Trump likely manifest more in rhetoric than policy.

Finally, Biden’s laser focus on Russia raises valid questions. Why doesn’t America exert such pressure worldwide? Critics point to inconsistencies in how the U.S. responds to aggression globally. Here the quest to preserve geopolitical dominance appears selective at best, self-serving at worst.

In the end, moral hierarchies matter less than interests. And combating Russia aligns with America’s global position. Other conflicts simply carry lower stakes for maintaining U.S. power and relevance.

And so the curtain falls on another act in the high-stakes drama between Russia, Turkey and the West. With competing interests colliding on economic, political and ideological fronts, the plot continues to thicken.

Turkey walks the tightrope, cautious not to fall from either side. Its leaders play a delicate balancing game – maintaining ties with Russia while avoiding Western penalties.

The future remains uncertain as all players hedge their bets. Will pragmatism rule the day? Or will tensions reach a breaking point? Much hangs in the balance.

The complex dynamics reveal hard truths about international relations. Moral posturing often masks cold calculus. And self-interest drives behavior more than ideals or principles.

In this tangled web of energy politics, every move entails risk and reward. The risks loom as large as the potential payoff. And the stakes continue rising.

As the curtain opens on the next act, new surprises undoubtedly await. But one truth persists – the show will go on. Too much power and money remains at play for either side to walk away. Stay tuned as the drama continues.

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