Nato Expansion and Turkey 336

I am in Turkey because, if there is to be movement in ending the war in Ukraine, it will happen here. President Erdogan’s firm stance on a potential veto of Swedish and Finnish NATO membership is framed in public only in relation to perceived support by those countries for Kurdish resistance groups. But of course it goes much deeper.

Erdogan understands that the spectacular advance by NATO eastward that Finnish enlargement in particular would represent, is a slap in the face for Putin that will make a peace deal in Ukraine far more difficult. Any such deal would have to be based upon Russia giving up some of the Ukrainian territory it holds today. Dramatic NATO expansion is the very opposite of an attempt to create the conditions for that. In fact, that NATO is so actively pursuing this expansion is sufficient evidence that NATO is looking for a long proxy war to bleed Russia, rather than trying to restore peace and stability to Europe.

That the European public are gripped by a wave of emotion over Ukraine was amply demonstrated by the popular vote of tens of millions in the Eurovision song contest. Once the spasm dies down, opinion in Finland and Sweden may revert. It has been obvious for over a decade that Putin has an aim to reintegrate Russian populated areas of the former Soviet Union into the Russian Federation. That agenda is currently causing a ruinous war, but is no military threat to Finland or Sweden.

Turkey retains the prestige of chosen venue and perhaps broker for continuing diplomatic contact between Russia and Ukraine. Erdogan’s robust stance on Finland and Sweden is necessary to maintain Russian trust. Turkey of course has its own lengthy and extremely complex historical and current relationship with Russia, which is much more important than Turkey’s role as a key NATO member might suggest. It is also worth bearing in mind that Turkey is a far more serious military power than Finland and Sweden combined.

There is another, specifically Turkish interest in play here, which is very much a factor in Erdogan’s willingness to stand up to Biden over Swedish and Finnish NATO entry. This of course relates to the permanent tension between NATO members Turkey and Greece.

Turkey is furious over the militarisation of the Eastern Aegean Greek Islands very close to its shores, and the lack of support and understanding it has received from other NATO members over the perceived threat.

The status of Greece’s most Eastern (Dodecanese) islands is not in doubt. It was established by the Treaty of Paris in 1947, to which all the permanent members of the UN security council, and many other states, are parties.

The demilitarisation of the islands is unequivocal, and no treaty since has negated it.

Other Greeks islands including Limnos and Lesbos slightly further West are similarly constrained by the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne. Greece claims this status was modified subsequently by the 1936 Straits Convention. I don’t think that is right but that is a more complex argument than we need to develop just now. The 1947 Treaty is not modified.

Yet Greece had proceeded and is still proceeding with the militarisation of the Dodecanese islands on a large scale, involving tens of thousands of troops in total, military aircraft, and in particular long range surface to surface missiles. Turkey and Russia both regard these as a threat. The Turkish government are privately convinced that this militarisation is being carried out with active United States cooperation, participation and perhaps instigation.

In February, President Erdogan stated that as the Treaties specifying demilitarisation are the very Treaties which give sovereignty over the islands to Greece, then if Greece was repudiating the treaties it brought sovereignty into question. Erdogan was immediately slapped down by the Biden administration.

So Turkish resentment at US behaviour in the Aegean, seen as encouraging a direct military threat, is another reason why Erdogan is not anxious to defer quickly to the US agenda in the Baltic. Turkish exasperation is further fueled by the fact that this really is bad faith by the USA, in refusing to abide by an international treaty to which it is a party (a position complicated by the fact Turkey itself is not a party to the Treaty of Paris 1947).

I have found this last 17 years of blogging that it only takes a little background knowledge, a little research, and a few affable conversations, to find a picture far more complicated and realistic than that carried in the mainstream media. Sadly there are few left in the mould of Robert Fisk.

Speaking of which the most important piece of UK journalism this year is being totally ignored by the mainstream media. Please do read it; you will learn more about how the UK really works than you ever will from the BBC.


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336 thoughts on “Nato Expansion and Turkey

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  • DiggerUK

    When is NATO Expansion, not NATO Expansion?

    This latest proposal from the UK government, via the Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, that…

    “Moldova could get modern weaponry to protect it from a Russian invasion ……. The Foreign Secretary revealed that talks were taking place to ensure the country had ‘Nato standard’ defences to discourage Vladimir Putin from embarking on any further expansion”

    The arms industry must be wetting themselves at the money on offer. The revelation that war is a racket is an oldie, but not much of a goodie.

    It also seems that Mariupol has finally fallen to the Russian ‘Special Missionaries’. It also appears likely that their ‘Special Mission’ is to occupy the whole of the south Ukrainian seaboard. What then will the government in Kiev have to negotiate with?

    It is obvious that ‘Special Mission Creep’ is beginning to force the agenda. It’s time to move peace negotiations up that agenda before a war of attrition takes hold.

    Relying on you and yours Craig…_

    • Harry Law

      Reza, the Russian players and others should take the Authorities to court since these bans are a blatant breach of the Equalities Act 2010, in many cases they are being asked to denounce their own countries and to put that in writing. These people are disgusting also racists, they are in fact the very people I hope both freeze and starve when Russia hits back with their own sanctions. Hypocrites.

  • Harry Law

    GW BUSH while speaking at the GW Bush institute the other day said “The decision of one man to launch a wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq,” I mean Ukraine, then made a joke of it to the laughing audience, a few years earlier he had joked with the press at a dinner by looking under the tables for the missing WMD, again this was hilarious to the assembled Morons
    A country destroyed, a million dead Iraqis and 4,550 US service members and 3,793 military contractors have died between March 2003 and October 2018. In any fair society Bush and Blair should be arrested and put in front of a firing squad for all the WMD lies.

    • Goose

      This recent – May 14th piece – is a more balanced, less jingoistic article on the war than anything I’ve read in the UK press:

      Ukraine Is in Worse Shape than You Think -TIME

      “Economically, Ukraine is surviving, but only that. The sanctions on Russia that are expected to cause a less than 7% contraction in GDP compare rather unfavorably to the 45-50% GDP collapse Ukraine is facing.

      ….whereas Ukrainian authorities controlled approximately 60% of Luhansk before the recent Russian invasion, now Russian forces control over 80% of the region. They also have about 70% of Zaporizhye region.”

      The inane propaganda pieces dressed up as ‘news’ in the UK can’t mask the reality facing Ukraine and its rapidly depleting armed forces. Zelensky is going to have to compromise for peace, if Ukraine is to survive.

      • DiggerUK

        I’m not a military expert and have no insight as to Russian tactics or strategy; but I am looking at Ukraines seaboard being occupied by Russian forces and hearing of a collapse of Ukrainian exports. Particularly perishable foodstuffs.

        The complete failure of Ukraine to supply or relieve its forces in the steelworks, suggests that the press reports of how capable Ukrainian forces are may be a casualty of war. I’m even questioning the truth behind the glowing reports of massive Russian losses. Newspeak has turned surrender in to evacuation!

        I’m just hoping that a catastrophe can be avoided and a peace negotiated at last…_

        • Wikikettle

          I think US has given Poland and Ukraine orders to merge, knowing the war is lost. Laws are being drafted in both countries giving full rights to Ukrainian citizens access to all Polish services and rights and interestingly allowing Polish to stand for office in Ukraine and enter the police force ? So Nato in effect via Poland enters Ukraine. This is another desperate escalation to prolong the war in my opinion. I hope Oddessa escapes the fate of Mariupol.

  • DiggerUK

    “…if there is to be movement in ending the war in Ukraine, it will happen here…”

    …. well it seems that our host has an ally with Henry Kissinger, even though he isn’t there with him.

    HK addressed the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland and called for peace, sooner rather than later. Further asking for Ukraine to consider ceding territory to further that aim. There are plenty of news reports on this for those interested in this development…_

    • Jack

      What is interesting is that west do not even want Ukraine as such, Macron said the other day that a possible Ukraine EU membership is perhaps 20 years from now! And while Nato arm, fund, train Ukraine as much as they can they still do not want to see Ukraine as a member.

      When will Ukraine realize they are just a puppet land for the west and their own interests? How much death and destruction will take until they wake up to the reality?

      “Boris Johnson Pressured Zelenskyy to Ditch Peace Talks With Russia: Ukrainian Paper”

      I do not understand what Ukraine is trying to achieve, in what way do they believe they could win over Russia?

      • Wikikettle

        New signs that US is already following “form”! US Secretary of ‘Defence’, Austin, indicates it’s Ukraine that decides what to do?!? Truly led by the nose up the garden path, then abandoned. I can’t see Zelensky being allowed to talk terms with Russia by the Nazis. Nor do I see Russia agreeing to the previous Minsk Accords. It’s going to be Poland’s call, nudged by US no doubt to move in. As for EU, they have shown how spineless and obedient they are, even at the economic cost of their own populations, and how hypocritical they are in not allowing Ukraine membership. It will be interesting to see how Ukrainian refugees are treated and numbers accepted by individual countries. The irony is that the Donbass refugees in Russia, which no one talks about, will return, and face a better future. The focus will soon be on Oddessa. The Neo Cons will push for an “expedition” there!

  • DiggerUK

    I remember from my active days as a trade unionist involved in negotiations, it was best to offer to give something up first, rather than banging your fist on the table and getting bolshey. It was a good way to break the log jams.

    Another lesson I learned from my union days was, don’t rub the other sides nose in it and don’t take the piss, especially when you’ve forced a good deal. You will be meeting them around the negotiating table again one day.
    As the man said… jaw or war.

    My gut feeling is that it’s all over now bar the press conference spin…_

  • nevermind

    Any peace/cease fire discussions should ideally have the long term security of all of Europe in mind, be more than just a short term solution.
    Russia is part of Europe and to a larger extent Asia and should also have its long term security considered.
    The problem lies with those who ignore such agreements, be they taken by the UN or OSCE, when it suits their own agenda, resulting in lack of trust and impetus to make peace a real concern.
    Peace can only thrive when the inherent empirical mindsets begin to realise that we have large global problems with energy, food and a collapsing eco system, which need us to come together, not create wars and feed on powerful arms contractors who love knocking stuff to smithereens, to then build it back up, an unsustainable undemocratic and perverse undertaking which will destroy humanity and the basics that keep us alive.

    • Wikikettle

      Weak countries are invaded and divided up. Turkey and US in Syria and no sanctions by EU ! Turkey about to take more Syrian land. Israel daily bombing Syria. US Israel regularly assassinating Iranian leaders and scientists. What is happening in Africa ? We are not told. The World Institutions and International Law have not served the Global South. Nor has the EU served its own populations nor the US its own. Under this situation of economic and military might of the Collective West, the Global South has seen only one country push back on a military level in Syria and save it partially from ruin and chaos as we see in Libya and Iraq. This is why we hate Russia so much, it dares challenge our domination and is an example for the Global South populations to hope for a better life. Look how easy it was for US to demand that the corrupt Pakistani elite remove Imran Khan.

      • Wikikettle

        China has infinitely more billions stuck in US Tressury IOUs and and in our banks. Its economy is intertwined with ours. Russia bit the bullet and had its assets stolen. China will hesitate till it to is forced to act. Our use of “Sanctions” is a blatant admission of the big lie that our Western Democratic Values are based on freedom of thought, expression and property rights! All the populations of the Global South want is First, just to have the right to feed themselves, house themselves with medicine and education. The colonisers may have left in name only, but their own corrupt elites, in our pockets, still betray them.

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