Critical threshold of the YPG in Turkey-Russia relations

“We take into account the sensitivity of our Turkish friends regarding the threats posed by foreign powers on the (Syrian) borders. The international community is worsening conditions in Syria. The United States is illegitimately supplying certain organizations in Syria. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov made the remarks during his critical visit to Turkey last week, at a joint press conference with Russian Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu. The subject was the YPG, the Syrian extension of the PKK terrorist organization.

These expressions become more significant when one recalls Lavrv’s words to Çavuşoğlu about four years ago. Lavrov expressed his opinion to Çavuşoğlu that the YPG should participate in the Astana process as an “official interlocutor”.

The same Lavrov gave signals to address Ankara’s theses the previous week, just before his visit to Turkey, following all the critical developments that have occurred since then, and the deepening of Turkish-Russian relations Consequently. And he assessed a possible Turkish operation against the YPG with the following words: “Russia has almost no military mission in Syria anymore. Of course, Turkey cannot remain indifferent to terrorism in northern Syria. The United States promotes separatism east of the Euphrates. “

Many analysts considered Lavrov’s words and other statements from Moscow as the green signal for the operation. What has changed in four years? To understand this, one must not only go back to the last four years, but also look at the chronology of developments that led to the deepening of relations between Ankara and Moscow.

In November 2015, for the first time in decades, a NATO member country, Turkey, shot down a Russian warplane.

Russia was not aggressive, it was continuing this process with more passive-aggressive sanctions such as trade and tourism, when a coup attempt took place in Turkey. It was a turning point that transformed Turkish-Russian relations.

While the United States did not initially choose sides between the putschists and the legitimate government with the magic words “peace and stability”, while it took two weeks for the European Union to send a representative , Russian President Vladimir Putin was one of the leaders who called on President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and gave him his support.

A month after the coup, we launched the first military operation in Syria. As the operation unfolded, there was a first in Istanbul. The Russian ambassador was killed by a member of the terrorist group Güleniste (FETÖ) resembling Daesh in front of the cameras.

Both leaders interpreted this unfortunate event as a way to sabotage their countries’ relations. However, it is precisely for this reason that relations between the two countries have emerged strengthened from each crisis. So much so that when the Russian plane was shot down, no one could have predicted that Turkish-Russian relations would progress to the point of buying the S-400. In fact, it is a fact that the evolution of the dynamics of Turkish-Russian relations, from the S-400s to the construction of the Akkuyu nuclear power plant, from the liberation of Karabakh to our latest operation in Syria, has disturbed the West centers of power.

It is a fact that these groups will want to use the YPG file, which remains a major stumbling block in relations between the two countries. For this reason, if an agreement can be reached with Russia on the YPG, it is possible that the doors for a new process will open.

At this point, let us recall our red line declared by President Erdoğan on June 26, 2015: “I appeal to the whole world: we will never allow the establishment of a state in northern Syria, in southern Turkey, whatever the price. »

We note with satisfaction the emphasis placed both on the fight against terrorism and on separatism in this declaration. Remember, however, that the YPG still has an official office in Moscow, although the Russian authorities deny it. In the geopolitics that has been reshaped after the intervention in Ukraine, Turkish-Russian relations must move forward in a healthy way, on the “red lines”, especially when all eyes are on Turkey and Russia on the grain corridor in Ukraine.

Moreover, Turkey holds the key to the membership of Finland and Sweden, which want to become members of NATO in the face of the Russian threat. Putting all this together, it is possible to say that there is a critical YPG threshold in relations with Russia and that this threshold must now be crossed.

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