Thursday, August 23, 2018

Russia-Turkey Alliance: Will Putin Bail Out Turkey To Further Fracture NATO?

If Putin Bails out Turkey Now He Could Fracture NATO, End Encirclement of Russia

“Turkey is already up against the wall, deep in a currency/debt crisis, and all the US is offering is a doubling of sanctions and more insults. One has to imagine that Putin can come up with a far more appealing deal for Erdogan”

Literally bridging Europe and Asia, Turkey has long appeared to refute Rudyard Kipling’s idea that “East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet.” An EU Customs Union member with strong banking ties to the European Union, and a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Turkey has also been quite happy to involve Russia and China in its economic development. But the often delicate balancing act between these competing blocs may be thrown out of whack in the wake of the country’s current economic travails.

Why? Per a tweet by Charlie Robertson, chief economist of Renaissance Capital, “Turkey is less than 0.1% of world equity markets. But #Turkey represents over 10% of NATO personnel – more than the UK and France combined – so US establishment (ie excluding Trump) will not want to lose Turkey.” So even if Ankara’s banking crisis does not trigger a global financial meltdown in the same manner in which, say, the Thai baht devaluation kicked off the 1997 Asian financial crisis, it may well fracture NATO’s foundations.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan badly needs to keep the Turkish “miracle” afloat, but he’s unlikely get the help he needs from the usual suspects, such as the International Monetary Fund (which would likely force painful deflationary measures on the country as it did during the Asian financial crisis in 1997-98). He could well secure it from Russia, however, which would undoubtedly love to exploit any divisions in Turkey’s ties to the West.
By the same token, Russian President Vladimir Putin would tremendously increase his own domestic stature were he to pull off a pipeline/gas export deal with Turkey that a) brings in much-needed foreign-exchange income for Russia and b) is a public slap in the face to the obvious US/Big Oil attempt to strangle Russian gas exports to Europe.
That may well motivate Putin to give Erdogan an unusually sweet deal on a loan, on more weapons exports, and on the gas-pipeline transit royalty money that could provide Turkey with valuable foreign exchange.
In light of all this, a rupture with NATO may become an irresistibly tempting option for Erdogan, as well as fulfilling Russia’s desire for payback for 20 years-plus of eastward expansion of NATO and the attempted promise of more to come in Ukraine (for which NATO membership was publicly mooted as recently as 2014).

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