EDAM Discussion Paper Series 2014/2

The Crimean Standoff:
Implications for Turkey

Can Kasapoğlu
Research Fellow, EDAM
Faculty Member, Girne American University

F. Doruk Ergun
Research Assistant, EDAM

Download the pdf document: Crimea_Turkey

Standing in between the West and Russia, Ukraine’s geostrategic significance for these two rivaling
powers is matched by few others.
But as a Black Sea littoral nation and also as a NATO member, the outcome of the crisis will have
major geopolitical impacts also for Turkey. Ankara’s improving economic and diplomatic relations
with Russia in the last decade, constraints of its energy dependency to Moscow, and its 62 years long
membership of NATO will likely be tested in this standoff. Moreover, since it controls the only access
point to the Black Sea (Dardanelles and the Bosphorus), Turkey might play a significant role on how a
potential escalation and/or war proceeds in the Black Sea. Lastly, the current trajectory of swiftly
unfolding events suggests that Ankara may soon face a Crimean Tatar problem in a geostrategically
important peninsula with a historical Turkish legacy at its northern waters, along with a kinship aspect
of the Turkish foreign policy that has been used to foster Ankara’s soft power projection towards its
hinterland. Such a development would test Turkish national capacity’s limits as a regional power.
This paper analyzes the geopolitical essence and security parameters of the Ukrainian crisis with
respect to Turkey’s and the West’s policy options as well as the Russian strategic thinking towards the
post-Soviet regions.