Due to Turkey’s deepening cooperation with Russia in the energy and economic sectors, a new rift is emerging between Ankara and Washington.
This new source of friction comes at a time when Ankara is under sanctions and has been locked out of the F-35 co-production program due to its purchase of Russian S-400s.
According to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey will serve as Russia’s “energy hub” for natural gas, and Ankara will be able to supply gas to Europe.
In addition, the Russian nuclear power company Rosatom announced that talks have started with Turkish authorities to build a second nuclear power plant in Sinop on the Black Sea.
The rapid increase in Turkish exports to Russia, as well as reports of Russian companies dubbed “fronts” settling in Turkey, have also sparked reactions in Washington. Significantly, the number of Russian companies founded in the first eight months of this year was 729 compared to around 100 in previous years.
The US has made clear its opposition to Russia’s and Turkey’s plans, with Deputy Chief State Department Spokesman Vedant Patel urging allies to take steps to diversify their energy sources and reduce dependence on Russia.
In the case of Turkey in particular, he said the US is working closely with Ankara to improve its long-term energy security. He added that Washington has told Turkey and all its allies and partners that no one should be turned into a safe haven for illegal Russian assets or transactions.
Noting that Turkey’s dependence on Russia in the energy sector is steadily increasing, Turkish analysts emphasize that Vladimir Putin is currently the main “blood donor” of the Turkish economy.
In addition to parallel transactions to circumvent sanctions, the analysts note that Moscow is sending billions of dollars in remittances to Turkey to build the Akkuyu nuclear power plant, while most Russians travel to Western countries through Turkey.
Meanwhile, in an interview with the Hurriyet and Sozcu newspapers, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar stressed the need for dialogue with Greece and reiterated calls for the islands to be demilitarized.
He also said he invited Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos and his wife to Turkey. Athens noted that the time for a visit is not right now.