Politics, Russian style

This op-ed was originally published in Turkish by Gazete Sabro on February 25, 2022. The original can be found here.

By Suphi Aksoy

Russia has maintained a unique style of political policy and maneuvering throughout its history. Because of its vast geographic territory, its political policy has been a synthesis of East and West. Located in both Asia and Europe, the Russian Federation pursued an interests-based policy and kept a distance from everyone. In the days of the Russian Empire, it adopted as a fundamental strategy an expansionist policy of advancing to warm seas. Russian politics after the October 17 Revolution, was done on a sacrificing-the-parts-for-the-whole tactic. Dreams of empire were revived with the coming to power of Russian President Vladimir Putin. With the end of the cold war in the 1990’s, the United States became the world leader and it attempted to create a new unipolar world order. With the political, economic, and military rise and assertiveness of China, Russia, and other regional states in recent years, however, a new multi-polar era is taking shape.

Russia has not only sacrificed the revolutions of many countries for its own interests, but also put the republics under its rule in its service. During World War II, the Russians sacrificed for their self-interests the Greek revolution, and for example the Kurdish Republic of Mahabad. By sacrificing popular movements in other countries to their own interests, they prevented democratic development in the world. They also organized socialism according to their own narrow-minded nationalism. They claimed that without Russia, socialism would not be victorious. After the collapse of the USSR, the style of Russia’s political policy has remained the same until today. Therefore, the workbench established with Turkey in Syria and in many areas is based on providing benefits to Russia.

The surrender of Afrin to Turkey is a consequence of the traditional policy followed by Russia. If the US had not erected a barrier to Russia in Syria, this policy would have been implemented throughout North and East Syria as well. The benefits it obtains from collaborating with Turkey are simply more comprehensive. The mindset of the Russian state and its leading elite is dominated by the understanding that no matter what happens, Russia needs to gain and win. It is on this basis that it imposes on the peoples of Syria its will either through the dictatorial regime or through the Turkish occupation.

However, with the occupation of Ukraine, Russia is in danger of becoming a pariah and rogue state in the eyes of the world. While the war initiated by Russia forces many parties and states to take sides, Turkey is the most affected by this situation. Turkey is stuck between the West and Russia and has serious issues with both sides. Turkey’s problems with Russia arise in many areas, including Ukraine. Turkey has responsibilities as a member of NATO. However, in terms of fulfilling its responsibilities, it is often referred to as an untrustworthy ally of the US and the Western powers.

It remains to be seen how Turkey’s split will play out from the Black Sea to the Syrian front and whether any new activity will begin in this regard. There is a danger of escalating conflict between the Syrian Democratic Forces and the Syrian Arab Army because, with war in Ukraine, it is not clear for the time being if, how, and against whom Russia will act in Syria.

While sacrificing parts for Russia’s interests, it also uses them when it seems fit. One can ask for example the question why Russia does not implement its determined policy in North and East Syria? It has done so in the Crimea and in Georgia where it entered into war for the autonomy and independence of Abkhazia and Ossetia. And it is doing it now in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine. By supporting the regional interests of the Syrian regime and the Turkish state, it will have the opportunity to expand geographically and geopolitically and to achieve its objectives, it thinks. By saying that it recognizes the will of the peoples, Russia is implicitly revealing what steps it has in mind for other peoples. For this reason, Russia is trying to knit socks for Turkey, Syria, and the Democratic Autonomous Administration.

In a new war in Syria, Turkey will be hit hard as conditions work against it. What the Democratic Autonomous Administration should do now is negotiate with all parties and maintain strategic relations with the United States. If the US is asked to leave Syria, the Syriac people and the Kurds may also have to leave Syria. Because if the Syrian regime gets stronger and gets the chance, it will not last long for the different ethnic groups in the country. Therefore, it is very important to pay close attention to previous and new negotiations and agreements between Russia, Ukraine, South Caucasus, Syria, Libya, which will force Turkey to act to maintain its own interests in the different regions. This will bring new developments for our region. Everyone should be ready for this, because we live in the fact that Russia is pursuing new interests and putting the world at the risk of war.

The views expressed in this op-ed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of SyriacPress.