Proxy Russia-Turkey War in Syria – What’s Next?

  • Turkey can't afford war with Russia from a military and economic prospective.
  • Turkey could close the Bosphorus Straight. Russia has an alternate route through Murmansk.
  • Historically, Turkey almost always lost to Russia.

Russia and Turkey have been at war for awhile. However, it is a proxy war. Pro Turkish Syrian fighters supported by the Turkish military are fighting Pro-Russian Syrian fighters, who are supported by the Russian Army and the Kremlin. It is a war fought by using others to reach their objectives.  Nevertheless, the war will turn into full blown conflict; at this time Turkey can’t afford blatant war with Russia.

In a hypothetical war scenario between the two, Turkey can’t afford war with Russia from a military and economic prospective. Also, without Russian gas it would be a problem for Turkey. Russian tourists make up the largest number of tourists traveling to Antatolia’s all inclusive resorts. Devaluation of currency will occur shortly after as well.

The challenge for Russia would be the lack of full access to the Bosphorus strait. A few days ago, Russian warships with cruise missiles passed through the Bosporus Strait on their way to Mediterranean waters, even as tensions continue to run high between Turkey and Russia. The two warships are the Admiral Makarov and Admiral Grigorovich, usually based in Sevastopol. Admiral Makarov is a third frigate of the Admiral Grigorovich class of the Russian Navy. It was commissioned in 2017.

NATO will not provide military support to Turkey at this time.

NATO Article 5 states that the Treaty parties agree that an armed attack  on one or more of them in Europe or North America will be considered an attack on them as a whole and, on the basis of this, confirm that if an armed attack takes place, each of the parties to the Treaty can use armed force for the purpose of restoring and subsequently preserving the security of the North Atlantic region. Therefore, it can only be imposed, if in fact Russia directly launches an attack on Turkish soil. A proxy war in a third country (such as Syria) does not fall under NATO Article 5. Overall, it is not in the best interest of NATO period to officially back Turkey against Russia in any armed conflict.

Historically, Turkey almost always lost to Russia. The Russian and Ottoman Empires had one of the longest conflicts in history lasting through three centuries. It started in the 17th century. Russia always won and history tends to repeat itself. The Crimean historic war is not counted as part of that conflict per se. Given that Erdogan wants to resurrect the Ottoman Empire and its reach, any repeat could be a major loss against Russia, even in a proxy war. In turn, it would take a long time to recover. Also, Erdogan’s Turkish opposition is not keen on the action in Syria and it could also cost Erdogan in future elections, or there could be a covert operation by Russia to make sure Erdogan’s power will end even quicker.

Another possible scenario, if Turkey seriously begins to fight with the Asadis (Russia by proxy) and the Russians increase their support, Turkey could close the Bosphorus Straight. Russia has an alternate route through Murmansk.

Russia will not stop and Erdogan is not going to win this conflict and will not succeed in his own ambitions against Putin. It is will be another loss for Erdogan’s Ottoman Empire dream.

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Christina Kitova

I spent most of my professional life in finance, insurance risk management litigation.

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