Vladimir Putin to Erdogan: Now We’re Talking!

Vladimir Golstein
Vladimir Golstein

…by Jonas E. Alexis & Vladimir Golstein


Vladimir Golstein holds his M.S. in Computers from Moscow Institute of Management, his B.A. in Philosophy from Columbia University, and his Ph.D. in Slavic Languages and Literatures from Yale University. His scholarly interests embrace Russian culture, religion, philosophy, and poetry of the past two centuries, as well as the current foreign policy issues. He is currently Professor of Slavic Studies at Brown University.

Golstein is putting together two scholarly monographs: one on the conflict of generations in Russia and another on the use of musical communication in a literary text. His recent study is Lermontov’s Narratives of Heroism (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 2012). He is well-known in the scholarly world.[1] His articles have been featured on Forbes, The Nation, Kyiv Post, Al Jazeera, and other news outlets.[2]

Alexis: Recep Tayyip Erdogan has finally conceded defeat. Russian-style defeat. As we reported over a week ago, Russia had effectively shut down Turkey’s economic infrastructure,[3] a strategic move that sent shockwaves across the country. Turkey’s tourism industry complained that this was “the worst season in 30 years.”[4] Sputnik has reported:

“Turkey’s once-thriving marketplaces have been left resembling ghost towns, with the tourism crisis riding roughshod over not only seaside resorts, but also Istanbul; this former Mecca of tourism was the worst affected by the aftermath of the bomb blasts.

“Even though the decline in revenues in Turkey’s tourist sector will ebb by about a quarter by the year-end, local hotels and restaurants, including those in Istanbul, remain empty.”[5]

Moscow waited for an apology from Erdogan for bringing down a Russian jet in Syria for over six months, and Erdogan has finally put his hands in the air and admitted his political missteps. He has already asked for forgiveness and begged for mercy. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said:

“President Putin has received a letter from Turkish President Erdogan where the Turkish leader expresses interest in resolving the situation around the downing of a Russian bomber jet.”[6] It is reported:

“Erdogan said that Turkey ‘shares the pain of the downed Su-24 pilot’s death with his family’ and ‘sees it as Turkey’s pain…’ Turkey is ready to take all steps required to ‘relieve the pain and severity of damage’ to the deceased Su-24 pilot’s family, Erdogan writes in his letter to the Russian President.”[7]

Erdogan also said: “We never intended to shoot down the aircraft of the Russdian Federation.”[8] In the same letter, Erdogan called Russia “a friend and a strategic partner.”[9]

Can friends stab each other and still be strategic partners? In any event, we obviously know that Erdogan is desperate to restore Turkey’s tourism industry. So, it could easily be argued that the letter is somewhat insincere.

But the fact is that Erdogan took the time to write it and send it to Moscow, and that itself is pregnant with meaning. Erdogan—like the Obama administration,[10] which has been pushed by NATO to promote covert operations on Russian borders[11]—has finally woken up from his fantasy and realized that Russia is a political and military powerhouse, one that cannot be easily dismissed by threat, political maneuvering, and ideological mumbo jumbo.

It seems that NATO and NWO agents were expecting Russia to do something really stupid. That would have given NATO and NWO agents enough excuses to build a diabolical case against Russia. But Russia took a more strategic route, one that progressively became more effective than anything else and one that obviously stunned warmongers. Russia cut Turkey’s economic supplies and made Erdogan look like Wile E. Coyote.

Putin has done well when he welcomed Turkey’s apology, and one must say that he probably did the right when he ordered Russia to start lifting the sanctions.[12] After all, peaceful resolutions should always be preferable over heated and protracted conflicts.

But Russia should keep an eye on Turkey, and Putin should also set up logical rules for continued dialogue, since Turkey is still part of NATO, which is hostile to Russia. Russia should also ask Erdogan to stop assisting ISIS and other terrorist groups that are targeting the Syrian government. And if Turkey fails to compensate for downing the Russian jet,[13] then no dialogue is needed and the letter was just a smokescreen.

Moreover, Erdogan should help Russia end the Syrian war by challenging the powers that be to stop supporting the so-called Syrian rebels and to ask Israel to stop dictating who needs to go and who needs to stay in the Middle East.[14] As we have seen earlier, the Israeli regime even prefers ISIS over the Syrian government.[15] That is one reason why ISIS has never attacked Israel. That’s one reason why the Israelis have been rescuing ISIS members in the region.[16] That was one reason why Israel was “in regular contact with Syrian rebels, including Islamic State (ISIS) militants.”[17]

But things are changing. If Erdogan is sincere about working with Putin, then the United States and even NATO will have a tough time perpetuating their lies and fabrications. The Erdogan apology also puts another nail in the New World Order coffin, despite the fact that news outlets such as the Daily Beast, the Washington Post, and Newsweek continue to attack Putin and Russia on a totally incoherent plane.[18] Vladimir Golstein, what is your assessment on some of these issues? Should Putin restore peaceful resolutions with Erdogan?

Golstein: Erdogan realized that through his authoritarian, self-righteous, and frequently erratic ways he managed to create too many enemies for his own country all over the world. On some level, he can be seen as the emblem of the United States: his economic successes have given him the aura of invincibility, so he began to be convinced that he can ride the wave of all possible confrontations and contradictions, hoping to succeed by challenging both his immediate neighbors (like Syria or Russia) as well as the distant countries, be it Germany or even the US for their support of the Syrian Kurds.

Clearly, Erdogan’s position is very complex, as he is trying to re-establish Turkey as a major economic and political power and power-broker in the region, while trying at the same time to accommodate various religious or political demands (such as his alliance with Saudis and various militant religious groups whom they sponsor, his obligations to NATO or his fear of Kurds and their separatist threat).

By trying to achieve so many goals, he was bound to appear erratic at times. It is hard to establish one’s mastery while at the same time serving other masters. The whole direction of his policy clearly backfired when his military managed to shoot down the Russian plane. First, he hoped to gain some support for his aggressive action from NATO, but his relations with NATO had soured as well when his refugee policy or his threats to such pillars of western society as freedom of speech, ostracized western powers as well.

So it eventually occurred to Erdogan that his relationship with the Saudis pushed him away from Iran, that his relationship with the US pushed him away from Russia and Iran, and so on, so he made a pragmatic decision to re-establish severed diplomatic and economic ties with various key players in the region, including Russia.

I am sure that Russia has its own economic and strategic interests in the area (ranging from the building gas pipe that would enable Russians to circumvent Ukraine, to peace in Syria and stability in various regions, such as Crimea or Azerbaijan) and it is clear that they are hoping that Erdogan would deliver at all these fronts, while seizing stirring trouble among Crimean Tartars, or Azeris in Nagorno-Karabach area.

Apparently, he also has been involved in negotiations with the Syrian government and is willing to stop his support of various militants, who challenge the Syrian regime. I hope he will stick to his pragmatic decision, and would not allow US/NATO/Saudis axis to sabotage these necessary steps for achieving peace and prosperity in the region.

Yet, there is no indication that this axis is ready to leave Erdogan off the hook, as the recent terrorist attack at the Istanbul airport revealed. But I am sure that Russia knows it, and would never fully trust Erdogan again. So every agreement they would have with Erdogan would be worked out carefully, with the possibilities of sanctions, penalties and so on included in the agreement.

But it is clear that Russia can utilize its relations with Erdogan to its benefits: be it tourism, or economic cooperation, or regional stability, or showing the West that its sanctions are ineffective, and that Russia can have as many new partners and allies as it wants.

[1] See Andrew Kahn, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Pushkin (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 87; Robin Feuer Miller, The Brothers Karamazov: Worlds of the Novel (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008), xvi; Ilia Dorontchenkov, ed., Russian and Soviet Views of Modern Western Art, 1890s to Mid-1930s (Berkley: University of California Press, ), xiv; Irina Paert, Spiritual Elders: Charisma and Tradition in Russian Orthodoxy (Dekalb, IL: Northern Illinois University Press, 2010), 248; Olga Tabachnikova, Anton Chekhov Through the Eyes of Russian Thinkers: Vasilii Rozanov, Dmitrii Merezhkovskii and Lev Shestov (New York and London: Anthem Press, 2012), chapter 8.

[2] Vladimir Golstein, “Why Everything You’ve Read About Ukraine Is Wrong,” Forbes, May 19, 2014; “Western Media Coverage of the Ukraine Crisis Is as Distorted as Soviet Propaganda,” The Nation, May 22, 2014; “Why do they hate Russia?,” Al Jazeera, March 8, 2014.

[3] Leonid Bershidsky, “Here’s Why Erdogan Is Burying the Hatchet With Putin,” Bloomberg, June 27, 2016.

[4] “Summertime Sadness: Turkey’s Tourism Crisis Shows No Sign of Abating,” Sputnik News, June 27, 2016.

[5] Ibid.

[6] “Erdogan Sends Condolences to Putin Over Death of Russian Su-24 Pilot,” Sputnik News, June 27, 2016.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] “Erdogan apologizes to Putin over death of Russian pilot, calls Russia ‘friend & strategic partner,’” Russia Today, June 27, 2016.

[10] For a recent development, see Josh Rogin, “Obama proposes new military partnership with Russia in Syria,” Washington Post, June 30, 2016.

[11] Lee Fang and Zaid Jilani, “Hacked Emails Reveal NATO General Plotting Against Obama on Russia Policy,” The Intercept, July 1, 2016.

[12] “Putin Instructs Gov’t to Start Talks With Turkey on Restoring Ties,” Sputnik News, June 29, 2016; “Putin-Erdogan 40-Minute Talks ‘Productive, Positive’ – Turkish Sources,” Sputnik News, June 29, 2016.

[13] “Russia Expects Compensation for Downed Su-24 to Restore Ties With Turkey,” Sputnik, June 30, 2012.

[14] “’Israel wanted Assad gone since start of Syria civil war,’” Jerusalem Post, September 17, 2013.

[15]  Adam Taylor, “Israeli defense minister: If I had to choose between Iran and ISIS, I’d choose ISIS,” Washington Post, January 19, 2016; “‘I prefer ISIS’: Iran’s terror infrastructure is greater threat to Israel – defense minister,”Russia Today, January 20, 2016.

[16] Jake Wallis Simons, “Saving their sworn enemy: Heartstopping footage shows Israeli commandos rescuing wounded men from Syrian warzone – but WHY are they risking their lives for Islamic militants?,” Daily Mail, December 8, 2015.

[17] “UN Report: Israel in Regular Contact with Syrian Rebels including ISIS,” International Business Times, December 7, 2014; see also Christa Case Bryant, “UN reports Israeli support for Syria rebels,” Christian Science Monitor, December 7, 2014; Itamar Sharon, “IDF medics seen treating Syrian rebels in new video,” Times of Israel, December 18, 2014; Maya Shwayder, “New UN report reveals collaboration between Israel and Syrian rebels,” Jerusalem Post, December 7, 2014.

[18] For a recent attack, see Anna Nemtsova, “Putin’s New Rival: Stalin,” Daily Beast, June 27, 2016; Josh Rogin, “Russia is harassing U.S. diplomats all over Europe,” Washington Post, June 27, 2016; Frederic C. Hof, “Putin Will Pay a High Price for Backing Assad’s Murders,” Newsweek, June 13, 2016.


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