Turkey’s Foreign Policy toward Russia: Constructing a Strategic Partner out of a Geopolitical Rival

Köremezli İ.

TURK DUNYASI INCELEMELERI DERGISI, vol.21, no.2, pp.351-373, 2021 (Peer-Reviewed Journal) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 21 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.32449/egetdid.928205
  • Journal Indexes: MLA - Modern Language Association Database, TR DİZİN (ULAKBİM)
  • Page Numbers: pp.351-373
  • Eskisehir Osmangazi University Affiliated: Yes


Ankara enjoys a climate of confidence in its relationship with Moscow in recent years. Unexpectedly, the former Soviet space and the Middle East have become regions of cooperation between Turkey and Russia. Turkey’s cooperation with Russia is not only a result of Moscow’s decreasing military and political power but more about Ankara's perception of that power. Thus, Turkish-Russian relations have quickly improved after the jet crisis in 2015, as peace and cooperation between the two parties are considered the normal state of affairs. According to this work, material conditions are insufficient to understand fostering relations between Turkey and Russia at such a pace. This article aims to consider the change in Turkish geopolitical imagination and perception of Russia via analyzing the political elite discourse. The article is comprised of four parts. The first part overviews the literature on Turkish-Russian relations to trace the reasons for cooperation in recent years. This work argues that the emergence of Eurasia and Russia as positively constructed geographies in Turkish geopolitical imagination has a pivotal role in strengthening bilateral ties and deepening cooperation. Thus, in the following two sections, the rise of Eurasia in Turkish geopolitical culture and the development of the Russian image from a threatening neighbor to a security partner in Turkish foreign policymaking are respectively evaluated. The article concludes with a debate over the rapid normalization of Turkish-Russian relations after the jet crisis underlining the role of the positive perception of Russia by the Turkish political elite in the process.