Russia and Turkey: Power, Individuals, and Identities in the Syrian Conflict

Nuray Ibryamova and Mehtap Kara

The relationship between Russia and Turkey went through dramatic changes during 2015-2016 and continued to evolve in the face of tumultuous domestic and regional developments. The downing of Russian plane Su-24 in November 2015 by Turkey was a pivotal moment in the relationship, as it marked the reversal of largely positive relations, and had wide- ranging implications for the region and beyond. For over a decade, Turkey and Russia had been able to prevent their deep differences on regional politics from spoiling their bilateral relationship. Their economic, commercial, and energy collaboration advanced despite Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and its unwavering support for Syria’s Assad regime. This remarkable trend came to an end when the plane was shot down, only for relations to be restored seven months later. The rapprochement that began in the summer of 2016 was further solidified after Russia’s support for Erdogan’s government in the aftermath of the attempted coup d’etat in Turkey in July 2016.

This chapter looks at the developments in the Russo-Turkish relationship in 2015-2016, especially with respect to the Syrian conflict. It argues that factors such as relative power, individuals in leadership positions and their perceptions, and identities contributed to the collapse of the

N. Ibryamova (*) ? M. Kara (*)

Eastern Mediterranean University, Famagusta, Turkey e-mail: This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it ; This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it

© The Author(s) 2017

R.E. Kanet (ed.), The Russian Challenge to the European Security Environment, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-50775-0_11

relationship and the subsequent reconciliation. The next section of the chapter discusses the suitability of neoclassical realism as well as ideational concepts for explaining the Russo-Turkish relationship. The following sections look at the power differential between the two states, the role of individuals as well as state-society relations, and identities in the Russo- Turkish conflict. Finally, the chapter discusses the implications of recent developments for relations of both states with the European Union (EU) and the US.

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