Russian increased naval activity in the eastern Mediterranean is sounding alarm bells for the Turkish military and the British military bases on Cyprus.
The Russian Navy has gathered 9 vessels between Cyprus and Syria, four of which are surface warships and three are submarines.
What worries other players in the region (namely the British and the Turks) more, is the fact that the Russians are maintaining radio silence and have not even hinted at their intentions for such a lethal naval force. Although the first and obvious thought is for the imminent offensive on the jihadist-held area of northwest Syria known as Idlib, the size of that naval force would indicate an overkill for that operation.
Russia’s interests in the eastern Mediterranean are not limited to Syria, a firm Russian ally, but expand to Egypt, the Suez Canal, Libya and beyond. All of which are anathema to Turkey that has its own “plans” for the region. It would be a mistake to underestimate Turkey’s own ambitions for the general area and demote their operations to “acting on behalf of the U.S.” That is simply not the case and in this instance, U.S. (neglected) interests in the region are at odds with those of the Turks.
Moscow may be keeping Turkey “close,” but that is by no means a “partnership or alliance” of any kind and certainly not a “friendship.”
Sooner or later, Russia’s interests will come to the fore and that is when Turkey will remember NATO and Turkey’s “unshakeable alliance” with the U.S. However, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s own actions of recent years have succeeded in alienating enough western allies who would not be too willing to throw their lot in a mess created exclusively by the ambitious mini-Sultan.
Ankara’s plans for two naval bases in Libya and a third in the occupied territories of Cyprus, are not viewed favourably by its western allies, at least the ones that matter, and are certainly not making Moscow happy.
Erdoğan, emboldened by German tolerance and recent U.S. indifference, has succeeded in stepping on too many toes and some of those toes belong to feet that can kick hard.
The views of the author do not necessarily reflect those of Greek City Times.