The escalating tensions between Turkey and Russia—brought to a head with the Turkish downing of a Russian Su-24 bomber jet in late November—exposed the competing objectives that presidents Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin are pursuing in Syria. Since that incident Russia has adopted sanctions and restricted tourism to Turkey, while Moscow and Ankara have lobbied mutual accusations of collusion with the Islamic State. This is set against a historic backdrop of centuries of competition between the two states on the Eurasian stage.
With their ongoing disagreement over the status of Nagorno-Karabakh, along with Russia’s recent move to punish those who deny the disputed genocide of Armenians during WWI, the latest tensions now threaten to spill over into the Caucasus. What motivates each side in the dispute, and where can we expect it to go in 2016? How do domestic politics play into each president’s posturing? And what implications would a protracted Russo-Turkish split have on Eurasian, and Transatlantic, security?
Michael Cecire is an associate scholar at the Foreign Policy Research Institute’s Project on Democratic Transitions. A Black Sea and Eurasia regional analyst, he was a visiting scholar at the Harriman Institute at Columbia University in fall 2011 and, before that, worked in Georgia as a policy consultant and analyst. Twitter: @mhikaric
Kemal Kirişci is the TÜSİAD senior fellow and director of the Center on the United States and Europe’s Turkey Project at the Brookings Institution, where he runs the Turkey Project Policy Paper series and frequently writes on the latest developments in Turkey. Prior to joining Brookings, Kirişci was a professor of international relations and held the Jean Monnet chair in European integration in the department of political science and international relations at Boğaziçi University in Istanbul. His recent publications include “Not likely to go home: Syrian refugees and the challenges to Turkey—and the international community” (Brookings, September 2015) and “Retracing the Caucasian Circle: Considerations and constraints for U.S., EU, and Turkish engagement in the South Caucasus” (Brookings, July 2015). Kirişci is the author of several books on Turkey, including, most recenty, Turkey and Its Neighbors: Foreign Relations in Transition (co-authored with R. Linden et al; Lynne Reinner, 2011). Twitter: @kemalkirisci
Maria Snegovaya is a PhD candidate in Comparative Politics and Statistical Methods at Columbia University, where she studies the sources of support for populist parties in Eastern Europe. Maria writes a biweekly column for Russia’s Vedomosti business daily and is a regular contributor to The Washington Post, The New Republic, The American Interest, andPolitico Europe. Her writing on Russia’s internal and external affairs, nuances of its political system, Ukraine’s domestic situation, and the Russian-Ukrainian conflict has been cited by David Brooks of The New York Times¸ Bloomberg and The Economist, among others. Twitter: @MSnegovaya
Anya Schmemann is Washington Director of Global Communications and Media Relations and Director of the Task Force Program at the Council on Foreign Relations. She previously served as Assistant Dean of the School of International Service at American University. Her articles have appeared in The Atlantic, The Huffington Post, and U.S. News & World Report, among others. Twitter: @aschmemann