Turkey has long been an ally of the United States and a prominent member of Nato. That, however, has not stopped it from the development of strong economic as well as political ties with Russia over the course of history, and the dangers of this risky game seem to be arising now, with the US planning to impose sanctions on the Euro-Asian nation.
While Turkey’sgeographical location is usually viewed as a major advantage, since many countries in its immediate neighbourhood require active Turkish collaboration in order to export or importoil and natural gas via economically feasible pipeline projects, the ongoing political, economic and militaryconflicts between the same global and regional actors not only negatively affect the development of the energy transportation routes in Eurasia, but also present a major foreign policy challenge for Ankara that has traditionally sought to maintain a careful balance in its relations with the West and Russia.
Russia and Turkey emerged as independent powers almost simultaneously – in 1380 and 1389.
There followed a spectacular rise for the Ottoman empire, which expanded rapidly and had become a superpower by the 16th century. Russia only emerged as a major European power in the late 16th century. This led to the beginning of a direct rivalry between the Ottoman Empire and Russia that would eventually result in the Russo-Turkish war in 1768-74, and last up until the First World War.
Both Russia and Turkey had lost a lot of resources and power as a result of the Great War, and maintained good relations in the aftermath, settling their territorial disputes. After the Second World War however, Russia began to apply pressure to Turkey as it wanted control over the Turkish straits and territory in eastern Turkey.
This was a key factor in the development of the Truman doctrine (1947), when the US assumed global responsibility for containing communism, thus formally launching the Cold War. Turkey received substantial US military support, abandoned its neutrality and joined NATO in 1952.
Shortly after this renewed hostility between Turkey and Russia, and Turkey’s formal alliance with the US, Stalin died in 1953.