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Russian invasion of Ukraine: manifestation of collapse of Soviet Union?

Today’s interlocutor is Dr. Can Kasapoğlu. He’s a senior fellow at Hudson Institute and the director of the research program at the Turkish think tank EDAM Turkey/

Russian invasion of Ukraine: manifestation of collapse of Soviet Union?
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Andriy Kulykov: Hello, you’re listening to Ukraine Calling, the English-language podcast from Hromadske Radio in Kyiv. I’m Andriy Kulykov and my today’s interlocutor is Dr. Can Kasapoğlu. He’s a senior fellow at Hudson Institute and the director of the research program at the Turkish think tank EDAM Turkey.

Turkey has always been a centre of gravitation for many Turkic states and peoples, nations. And of late, I think that this trend has been revived because for some time it has been on the downside of the events. What is your take on why this is happening? And what’s the role in this of the success of Azerbaijan in its war with Armenia?

Dr. Can Kasapoğlu: Well, that’s a great question. And I think that pertains to many geopolitical trends. It is complex. We should also avoid being deterministic about that. Very briefly, we should focus on each and every trend that brought about that result. The first one is, of course, the power vacuum because the history says the Soviet Union collapsed three decades ago, but geopolitically, geopolitics do not always go hand in hand with history. I think the Soviet Union is now collapsing. And we are seeing the manifestations of the Soviet collapse, for instance, in the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Right now, the armed forces of the Russian Federation could not pull off, could not achieve a decisive victory over one and a half years. This is going to be the second winter of the war. And we are seeing that the Ukrainian military and Ukrainian people are having a strong will to resist the invasion.

So that’s one part. Can you imagine that 20 years ago? The Russian military, the Russian war machine, standing in Ukraine, the Ukrainian armed forces are right now in the south, are on counter offensive and the Russian military is in the defensive position. So that’s one part of the story. But we are seeing the decline of the Russian power and the power vacuum coming after that, also in the Caucasus, in Central Asia. And Turkey is the natural candidate to fill that vacuum.

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Turkey finds more freedom of space

So that’s one geopolitical going zoom out to zoom in. At the very highest level, I think this is because of the collapse, the real collapse of the Soviet Union and Turkey finding itself more freedom of space, if you like, in the geography that it has national rules in. The second reason and the trend to monitor is the boost in the Turkish defence sector, what we call in very military terms, defence, technological and industrial based, DTIB. Like for the entire Cold War, Turkey was an important military power within the NATO alliance. It tied down more than 22 Soviet Red Army divisions. And had Turkey not been a NATO member, the correlation of forces again in military terminology in the Eastern European plane between the Warsaw Pact and NATO forces would have been quite different.

Photo: hudson.org

And with that correlation or that hypothetical correlation of forces, history could have played differently. But although Turkey was an important military power within the NATO alliance, it was a net arms exporter. So right now, Turkey is an arms exporter nation. It is exporting arms to NATO countries like Poland, also Turkic states like Azerbaijan. But it is not only a business as usual arms exporter state. It is, if you like, surfing on the waves of 21st century. Look at the game changer weapons systems of the Turkish defence, technological and industrial base, robotic solutions, autonomous solutions, smart solutions. And it is going cumulatively, and it is growing exponentially. For military people in your audience who have familiarity with military affairs, right now we are talking about Turkish drones releasing loitering munitions, so strategic drones releasing kamikaze drones. And the kamikaze drone and the strategic drone, they enjoy high-end sensor systems.

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New weapons systems as game changers

So this is important. And what changed the entire calculus in the second Karabakh war and the recent clashes were actually Azerbaijan procured drones both from Turkey and from Israel, loitering munitions from Israel, conventional drones from Turkey. The game changer was those new systems that belong to the 21st century. And don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t mean that 20th century weaponry is useless right now, but these robotic systems are boosters.

So the artificial artillery system with drone spotting and drone target acquisition and drone intelligence screen is a different piece than a conventional artillery. So we saw a boost in that. But not only that, Turkey is not only building capacity, Turkey is building the future. Because Azerbaijan for instance is not an off the shelf buyer of Turkish drones. Neither is Kazakhstan, for instance. Turkey is granting co-production rights and technology transfer to those nations. But Ukraine is one of those nations in the post-Soviet space that Turkey is not only giving fish, but they are fishing together. And they are like learning how to fish together. And they are joining their forces in defence, technology and industrial base.

Strategic autonomy within NATO

So it is multiplying itself and copying its DNA in different parts of the world. So this is the second trend. I think the third and the last trend here is the Turkish foreign policy. And this is the tricky part. From a very myopic lens, you could see it as a drift from Turkey’s traditional Cold War commitments. But if you look at the statistics of NATO operations, Turkey is one of the most energetic members of NATO. Turkey is in nearly every single important NATO operation. But again, if you just move one step further away and look at the NATO alliance, there are two actors in the NATO alliance who have strategic autonomy in their agenda.

One is talking the talk and another one is walking the walk. France is talking the talk. France seems to build strategic autonomy as they call it. But they couldn’t move one inch further in terms of expanding their marge de manoeuvre and influence. Turkey is yet another NATO member that is trying to build strategic autonomy, which means more freedom of space in the contemporary international affairs. And it is walking the walk. Turkey tipped the military balance in Libya, military balance in Karabakh. Karabakh was a frozen conflict that the Russians were benefiting from. Turkey is an important actor in Syria. Turkey is an important actor in Iraq.

And the tricky part, yet another tricky part in that strategic autonomy building, is that Turkey is not always able to architect the design that it wants. But it has one ability. It can disrupt each and every architecture that it doesn’t like. So maybe Turkey cannot design everything in Syria. Turkey cannot design everything in Libya. Turkey cannot design anything and everything in the North Caucasus. But Turkey can disrupt any foreign design that is in contradiction with its strategic interests. So this is also important. It can be a game breaker if it wants to. So all these factors coming together, I think, is the new political outlook that you have rightly depicted in the Turkic axis, if you like, which was Soviet space once upon a time.

Syrian conundrum and Iran

Andriy Kulykov: In this respect, Dr. Kasapoğlu, how important in formulating an effect on the Turkish foreign policy is its long-standing rivalry with Iran?

Dr. Can Kasapoğlu: That’s yet another great question. And thank you for asking that, because it is not… We are not seeing that kind of news catching in foreign observation of Turkish foreign policy. Like seeing Turkish-Iranian rivalry at the first glance is not that easy. But looking at the history, the imperial times, the Ottoman times, Iran was one of the main geopolitical rivals of the empire. And looking at today, I’m going to list you in a nutshell, a quick, a quick seconds of flash points and tell me only one that Iran and Turkey are not in rivalry. Syria, for instance… Turkey was on the complete opposite camp and still in the complete opposite camp of the Syrian conundrum.

Look at Iraq, for instance, which actors and which agendas they are pursuing. Look at the Caucasus, the Azerbaijani-Armenian showdown in the Caucasus. Iran is a natural and long-time ally of Armenia, which holds three Russian bases, which is like a garrison state of the Russians.
Turkey is taking side with Azerbaijan, an ally of Israel, a nation that strives to be a NATO standard in military protocols. And we can give other examples. But I think apart from only the geopolitical competition, look at what’s happening in Iran. Women crying for freedom, women crying for living in the 21st century with all the civil rights that their counterparts in other nations are craving for.

Two competing models

I think there are two models also competing. Within the Muslim majority population countries, Turkey has a conservative government and a conservative president, like President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and a secular constitution. And Turkey is showing that the conservative government and the conservative president and the secular constitution is actually working.

There is constitutional freedom in women’s rights, in women’s dressing, outfit, clothing, everything. Turkey is a European Union full membership candidate. Although we have huge problems that candidate status has never changed. Turkey is one of the longest-standing members of the NATO alliance. And I think, like, we feel like we can discuss on that. Although liberals in Turkey wouldn’t like what I said, I think Turkey’s real Western identity, the real anchor, lies in its NATO membership, not European Union candidate status. I think NATO membership defines Turkey’s Western identity, and this is the desire and state for Turkey’s Western ties. Liberal economy with deep-rooted capitalism. Turkey is a trading nation. It is not a hydrocarbon nation. Turkey is a trading state. G20 member, one of the most dynamic economies of the world. We have a lot of startups, especially high-tech startups right now. Robotic sector is on the rise in Turkey.

And we are seeing that despite all the problems and everything, the Turkish project is successful. On the other hand, you have Iran. A regime that cracks down on its own population who simply wants to dress as they like. A regime that survives by exporting instability and terrorism as well for decades. Iran was one of the arch supporters of the PKK terrorism in Turkey. A regime whose friends are North Korea, Russian Federation, countries like that. And then there is Turkey who is having a seat in the North Atlantic Council. I think these two models bordering each other and addressing to the broader Islamic world are in natural competition, just like the imperial times with different dynamics. And I think in that showdown, very objectively, it is really hard when you are at the think tanker, when you are a strategic analyst and a military expert, and you are commenting on Turkey in my professional parts and institute publications, for instance. I stay away from commenting on Turkey, just like the medical analogy that surgeons do not operate their relatives and their families.

Not because I’m not objective, but I don’t want to be portrayed like that. What I’m saying, I would say the same if I were Italian, French, or British, despite all the problems and everything, the model, the constitutional model that Turkey is portraying represents the future. And the constitutional model that Iran is portraying has no chance in competing with that, because of the scientific rules and because of the social contract in the Rousseau’s terms, the social contract that Turkey could offer, be it religious clothing or be it another fashion that ladies would want to follow. It is not even a daily subject in Turkey. We have long passed that. There were indeed issues to be addressed in the past, but social contract-wise, right now Turkey is looking at the future…

Turkey’s position on Ukraine is not neutral

Andriy Kulykov: Dr. Can Kasapoğlu, a senior fellow at Hudson Institute and the director of the research program at the Turkish think tank, EDAM, is our interviewee in Ukraine Calling tonight. My next question is, for quite some years, for many, many Ukrainians, Turkey was a desired place to go and have a rest in the summer, to buy some stuff. We didn’t think about Turkey as some country that would influence to a great extent what is happening now in Ukraine. We are aware of the arms that we get from Turkey. We are aware of the role that Turkey plays in the so-called grain corridor, and we are aware of the efforts that Turkey, in the person of its president, applies to looking for peaceful settlement of the Russo-Ukrainian conflict. Many people may regard this sceptically. Other people are very enthusiastic about this. What’s your opinion: is a peaceful settlement available at all at this stage, and what role Turkey can play in this? In addition to what it is already doing?

Dr. Can Kasapoğlu: Let’s try to understand Turkey’s position. Turkey’s position is not a neutral position. Neutral states do not, let alone selling arms, do not donate arms to the Ukrainian military. So, Turkey is not selling arms. Turkey is crowdfunding and donating crowdfunded arms to Ukraine without even receiving the crowdfunded amount. The Baykar company rejected that. They say like this nation is fighting for its freedom, and we are not taking this crowdfunded money, and they did something really chivalrous. They said like give this money for rebuilding Ukraine, allocate this money for those people who are suffering from the Russian invasion. I’m not saying this to praise the company. I have no financial cooperation with the company, even though I should say that I deeply respect what they did.

This manifests a stance. This manifests the stance of three things. First, why Turkey wants, at a time when it is supplying Ukraine with game changer weapon systems. By game changer weapon systems, I mean Bayraktar TB2. It has a relatively lower share of operational tempo in the overall Ukrainian combat operations. But recalling back to the very beginning of the Russian invasion, we all witnessed that.

When listening to this podcast, definitely Google articles at the very outset of this conflict saying that Ukraine has no chance. There were even articles saying that Western arms will not make a change in Ukraine. And before that, there were articles assuring an entire Euro-Atlantic strategic community that the Russian military will not invade Ukraine. Those articles are the emblematic manifestations of shame, and they’re going to stay like carved in stone, carved in digital stone. They’re going to stay on the internet just like that. The articles that were trying to convince the Western leadership that the Russian military will not invade. And then articles saying that Western arms would not do anything to the Ukrainian military, so do not just send those people in arms.

That was the atmosphere. There were no military assistance programs. There were no Leopard 2 tanks. There was no Patriot. There was no HIMARS. There was no large-scale ammunition flow into Ukraine. And when the Russian military started rolling its tanks into Ukraine in a multi-farm war, Turkish TB2s were in the Ukrainian skies. And there was a nuance as a military analysis I have to admit that Turkey does not certify foreign munitions to its combat drones, which means that once you buy Turkish combat drones, it doesn’t automatically equip them with war-fighting capability. Ukraine never faced a shortage of Turkey-made smart munitions for the TB2 drones. And even before the war, Ukraine used those drones in the Eastern counterterrorism operations against the Russian-backed separatist forces. So there was no geographic limitation or combat road limitation when Turkey sold those drones to Ukraine. It was like Turkey said, use them as you like within the legitimate war-fighting legal basis and terms to defend your homeland.

So that at the very outset of this conflict was a game changer. Plus, Bayraktar TB2 is a very high-end system. It is way superior to the Russian drones. This is why it also became an instrument of psychological warfare and morale boost to the Ukrainian military. Why do you think the Ukrainians are singing songs after Bayraktar? Because at the outset of the war, name three or four weapons systems that the Ukrainians were superior to the Russians. And TB2 is a typical 21st century weapon system. So that played a huge role. So all this prelude is to tell the Ukrainian audience, plus there is more, there is the hedgehog MRAPs, mine-resistant ambush protected war-fighting vehicles. Probably Akıncı drones are on its way. It is the TB2 on steroids with many mission ports, all your broadening. But all this prelude is to explain to the Ukrainian audience that Turkish role is not neutral at all. It is pro-Ukrainian.

Crimea and Crimean Tatars: Turkey’s stance

It is pro-Ukrainian with announcement that Turkey wants that war comes to an end. And again, like we have to highlight yet again in other news Turkey wants this was come to an end as soon as possible with nonnegotiable territorial integrity of Ukraine, including the Crimean Peninsula. And this sensibility is not a new sensibility, since 2014, go back on the Twitter and look at the Turkish Foreign Office, the Turkish Ministry’s notes about Crimea. Turkey has never, ever become even an inch close to even de facto turning a blind eye to recognize that fait accompli. Turkish position with NATO as to Crimea was one of the firmest positions, you know. Crimea is a part of Ukraine and Crimea will stay as such and this is really important among all NATO allies because of the Indigenous population of Crimea, Crimean Tatars, that Turkey holds kinship relations with the same linguistics, same culture, same background, same cultural heritage, more and more.

So, Turkey having that firm state set stance, that sensibility about Ukrainian territorial integrity and taking a pro-Ukraine policy in arming the Ukrainian military and the company, the company, Baykar company on CNN broadcast, one broadcast that the anchorwoman asked like, «would you sell the same drones to the Russian Federation?» They said no. Openly, no. So it is not, you know, we’re gonna sell arms to both sides of the conflict. Ukraine gets Turkish arms, Russia doesn’t get Turkish arms. It is that firm pro-Ukraine position, but Turkey wants that war comes to an end. Why? Because of our first topic that we were talking. Turkey is a trading state. Turkey wants to do business. It is not Saudi Arabia, it is not the Russian Federation, it is not Algeria, its economy does not run on hydrocarbons. Turkey is economy like the shark, the shark lives as long as it swims, Turkish economy lives as long as it trades. Turkey is a trading nation. It has to trade. It has certain trade interests with Russia. It has certain trade interests with Ukraine, and this sanctions and disrupted economy and nosediving economy conditions is not convenient for the geopolitical outlook and geoeconomic outlook of Turkey. That’s the first reason. The second reason is this war comes with a huge spillover burden. And that spillover burden we saw in the naval mines in the Black Sea, for instance. That spillover burden is mounting in the Black Sea, naturally, okay? The Turkey- one of the main tenets of Turkish policy is based on calm and peace in the Black Sea, so a conflict that has a huge potential of poisoning the Black Sea is inherently contradicting with the geopolitical rodeo when you stand in Ankara.
Restoring empires: unthinkable?

Andriy Kulykov: Dr. Kasapoğluyou may laugh off my last question which you may think is very far-fetched, anyway, I would ask you to answer rather briefly. Russians are now openly talking about restoring the empire. If this was considered to be something of indecency even ten or twenty years ago, now more and more often we hear about «the empire that needs to be restored.» Turkey used to be one of the greatest empires on Earth and it spanned countries in three continents. Is there at least some nostalgia and some plans among some people in Turkey to try to restore the Ottoman Empire?

Dr. Can Kasapoğlu: I would never laugh at those questions because I’m a think-tanker and my job is to think the unthinkable and talk about all these, you know, probabilities, calculations. Nostalgia in poetry, well reading in all modes, you know, can ring a romantic bell and it can be, you know, just drawing for a couple of hours over drinks, but it doesn’t mix well with the realistic world or political-military affairs. So, there is a seventy-year-old KGB officer sitting in the Kremlin and here, whose last post was the KGB liaison office in East Germany, Dresden. That career creates and that career combined with that generation brings about, inevitably, a world view. A world view that you can hardly run against the realities of twenty-first century.
What do I mean by the realities of the twenty-first century? I’m not making a moral judgement here, my job is not for moral judgement, this is for political actors, and I’m being a think tanker, I am the- I am the ontological antithesis of being a political activist. My «ABC» looking at world affairs is a world called the reals and Realpolitik. So, what do I mean by that? It means the precedent that the Russian armed forces set in Syria was not the right precedent to judge operational probabilities in Ukraine because Ukraine has air defences. In Syria, the target set did not have air defences apart from some MANPAD systems, Manned Portable Air Defences. In Syria, the land component of the Russian intervention never came from the Russian principle. It was enabled by the Iranian revolutionary guts, by harvesting paramilitary formations all the way from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Lebanon, and Iraq

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The Russians, according to Russian writings and what we saw by open source intelligence, they dispatched a very limited air contingent in Syria, and the entire operation was designed to be the very opposite of the quagmire in Afghanistan. That once the Soviet Red Army was surrounded. Okay? If you take this precedent and hope that this very precedent and the image of the Russian military will work exactly against one of the largest countries in Europe at Ukraine, against Ukrainian territorial defence forces and Ukrainian armed forces that can together generate a few hundred thousands of war fighting prowess in the Ukrainian soil. Looking at the differences between Syria and Ukraine professionally, as a military analyst, you can easily grasp that there is little if any resemblance between the two battlefields. It takes a romantic nostalgia and a little bit of obsession if you like, of restoring the Soviet Empire, which is not secret, by the way, go to the website, I don’t know if in Ukraine you can easily enter the website of the Kremlin, but go to kremlin.ru and there is the post outlining Putin’s article there on the historical unity of Ukrainians and Russians, and that article defines you know Belarus, Russian Federation, and Ukraine being one single political entity.

Now, I’m in Kyiv right now. I spent a field tour in Ukraine, different parts and a conference here. I know Russia, I know that part of the world. The Ukrainian people have a different relationship with their government, okay? It is more of a taxpayer, voter, and service provider relationship in western standards, okay? If they don’t like the government they change it, by ballot box, okay? They are aware that they are taxpayers, and this is like a different economy thing, or a different mindset, and they don’t want to be ruled by the glorious leaders or a cult of you know ex-intelligence officers coming from the KGB ranks, and so on, so on, so twenty-first century is more than linguistics. Twenty-first century is more than, you know, bloodlines.

Ukraine and Russia: different worlds

Twenty-first century, and political systems, I’m gonna refer to 2017 if I’m not mistaken, World Economic Forum speaker Yuval Noah Harari, regimes are information processing systems, okay? The Ukrainian society has a very different information processing reflex and pattern compared to the Russian society. And I’m not using that even for looking down on anybody or this. It is just different. It is just different. The political ideals are different, political design is different, requests from society is different, the social contract is different. Even digitalization is different. Hm? For instance, like on this podcast, YouTube upload, whatever it is, you can easily- you are based in Ukraine right now, right? You can easily criticise the Zelenskyy government and next day you will not lose your job or you will not be imprisoned, okay? So- and you want to live like that and President Zelenskyy wants you to live like that, he wants to live like that. This is way bigger than the twentieth century imperial grims. This is in an information processing environment and you know, I don’t know about the historical unity, I’m not a historian and I don’t pretend to be one, and I’m a think- tanker, I’m an intelligence analyst, and I can say that, you know, a journalist criticising the Zelensky government and the next day going to his job and being one-hundred percent sure about his safety and security and bank accounts, and journalists in Russian Federation, you know, saying an iota of critical work about the Kremlin. You know, these are two different worlds. I don’t know the historical unity but today I see no unity between those two information processing systems. So, the imperial nostalgia could be romantic but you cannot base the contemporary political military affairs on that. Contemporary political military affairs can only be based on realpolitik and realpolitik, you know, is hugely different.

Turkey and realpolitik

Now, when it comes to Turkey, when it comes to realism, and realpolitik understanding, it is the antithesis of what Russia did. Look at Turkey’s wars, and look at Turkey’s military interventions, okay? Libya, for instance. No boots on the ground. Robotics systems. Capacity-building of the UN-recognized Tripoli government, okay, having full backing of the UN recognition. No Turkish-Dutch combat formations, no large-scale operations in Libya, very realistic, very pinpoint, okay, and with very clearly defined political framework for that. Look at the Syrian operations for instance. Here we witnessed a quagmire, just like that, okay? Open-ended operation, no. Very clear political goals. No ISIS bash terrorist stronghold. No PKK YPG terrorist stronghold. This is the very clearly defined framework, okay? The operation is designed by superior technology. Comparing Russian and Turkish operations and Turkish operations, you do not- I don’t mean majority, I mean like all- there is no unguided munitions in the Soviet- in the Turkish operations. There is no Soviet ratings like T55 tanks, like T64 tanks, okay, in Turkish operations. There are tens of Turkish think tanks writing about operations. Some having some critical points, you know, people are discussing in a- in a broad sense. I wrote extensively about that. The goals are really well-defined, okay? And there is no article coming from any Turkish official like the article on the Kremlin website about the historical unity article. So look at that for instance. Very sober, very clear-minded.

Photo: Zuma Press/Scanpix

Look at the Turkish National Security Congress. The references and everything. Always emphasising the NATO identity, always trying to create- I am not trying to, you know, I am- what I’m trying to envisage here is not being a mouthpiece analyst. I’m not, you know, doing the bidding of the incumbent sitting Turkish government saying that they did everything fine, everything is. But there is a clear distinction between the incumbent sitting Turkish government and Putin’s adventurism in the post-Soviet space that caused a tragedy for millions of people. With all the things they do right and wrong, the sitting Turkish officials are living in the twenty-first century and they are living in- and they are making their decisions in a paradigm that is shaped by realpolitik, the realities, okay? In Russia, we see the restoration of the Soviet Union, which itself was bankrupt and collapsed because the project failed, okay? When it comes to the Ottoman nostalgia and Ottoman nostalgia in Turkey, I’m gonna be very straightforward with you, every single Turk will carry a huge respect to the Ottoman Empire out of legacy, just like we would have a huge respect to the founder of the Republic of Turkey.

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The Turkish history didn’t start with the Ottoman Empire, all the way back from pre-Islamic times, you know, the Asian, the Central-Asian Turkic empires, you know, we would all be proud of that history and that legacy and that heritage. Okay? But we will not shape our foreign policy and stake our economic policy around that historical nostalgia, you know. These glorious days are part of our heritage, we are proud of that, it is part of our national identity, definitely, but we live in the twenty-first century with all the sacred arrangements stemming from Turkish NATO membership with delicate regional balances around Turkey in the Middle East, in the former Soviet space, in the Balkans, and knowing that Turkey, a NATO nation, bordering Iran, Iraq, Syria, the Middle East, the Caucasus, it is surrounded by different conflict zones, mushrooming, you know, clashes, around Turkey like the Russo-Ukrainian War, like the first, second, and now the third, or two-point-five Katabakh War, the security situation in Syria, the security situation in Iraq, the really ambitious and aggressive Iran, the eastern Mediterranean, you know. Being surrounded by that kind of delicate security environment, there is no room for even one second of losing- losing the sense of realpolitik, and the sitting incumbent Turkish government, if there is one thing that I would praise about their security and foreign policy, is never losing that attachment to the real- to the understanding of realpolitik and the real world. So, that would be a huge respect to the Imperial times, definitely, in the Turkish society, but rejuvenation of an empire and making foolish mistakes in doing so and, you know, turning a total blind eye to the twenty-first century arrangements, NATO architecture, the Eur-Atlantic, Transatlantic security commitments and the requirements of today, the twenty-first century, I mean like you can only find, you can only find a sober, well-calculated, realpolitik solution.

Single example, not so simple

I’m going to end with one single example. Look at the very grim situation of the Finnish and Swedish NATO accession processes and what Turkey did was immediately, you know, in a fast-track fashion, giving a green light to Finland, and Finland is a NATO member right now, taking it case by case, and on the Swedish case, negotiating according to the memorandum of understanding centred on the very clear subject of countering terrorism threat. The PKK terrorism, but terrorism at large. And when doing so, being one of the utmost contributors to the NATO operations.
Don’t I have any criticism to the contemporary Turkish foreign national security policy? Indeed, I published that. Even I published on the official news outlet of Turkey, for instance, Turkiye. The S400 air missile defence system procurement. On technical grounds, on political and diplomatic grounds, I criticised that, and that’s all open on the website, as a think tanker objectively. So, that, still, I can say openly on the record, procurement of the S400 was a huge mistake. It was a huge mistake. And we are all seeing the combat problems of S400 right now in the Russian combat operations. And even in the Turkish case that would be standalone. But when it comes to your core question of, you know, Russian example comparing it to Turkey, about the imperial nostalgia, you wouldn’t find even an iota of the Putin, Putin regime’s understanding, surreal understanding of the Soviet Union, you would never find something like that in Turkey as to the heritage, no.

Andriy Kulykov: Thank you very, very much Dr. Kasapoğlu. You’ve listened to Ukraine Calling, the English-language podcast from Hromadske Radio in Kyiv. I’m Andriy Kulykov And our today’s interviewee was Dr. Can Kasapoğlu, senior fellow at Hudson Institute and the director of the Security and Defense Research Program at the Turkish think tank EDAM.

You may also read or listen on Hromadske Radio: Talking about collaboration we need to focus on the great harm caused, not just the people who were in a vulnerable position — human rights defender Rachel Denber

Transcribed by Caitilín O’Hare

Please, listen to the full interview, turning on the audio player at the top of the page


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