Partnership of Contrarians

Russia connects with Turkey seeking opportunities in the Middle East.

Putin heeded to Erdoğan on 3 December 2012. Photo: The Presidential Press and Information Office

Violent conflicts in the Middle East gained new momentum in 2014, and the forceful multilateral efforts to contain them yielded far from satisfactory results. Both Russia and Turkey have remained aloof from these efforts, and often oppose US-led endeavors but they have major stakes in the overlapping regional conflicts and so are exploring opportunities to claim a key role in pro-active conflict management.

  • Russia’s best opportunity to boost its role in the Middle East is by launching joint initiatives with Turkey.
  • Energy ties are a less solid foundation for this partnership because of the drop in oil prices.
  • Personal chemistry between Putin and Erdoğan is a major asset for the joint initiatives.
  • Positions on the Syrian war remain far apart, but both states aim to undermine US leadership.

Read more in the new PRIO Policy Brief: Partnerhip of Contrarians

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