Hanna Notte Profile picture
Aug 26 18 tweets 16 min read
6 months into #Russia’s aggression against #Ukraine, there are mostly losers.

One potential winner is #Turkey, given 2nd-order effects of the war.

Since Feb, Ankara has gained some leverage vis-a-vis both #Russia and #NATO.

An attempt at a (complicated) balance sheet🧵(1/18)
Since Feb, #Turkey has attempted a careful balancing act on #RussiaUkraineWar:
-No sanctions against #Russia
-No boycott of Russian #gas
-#Erdogan engaging #Putin frequently & visibly
-Giving #Ukraine #BayraktarTB2
-Invoking Montreux Convention

I could go on and on (2/18)
As a result of
1) Turkey successfully mediating grain exports from Ukraine ports &
2) #Russia increasingly shunning traditional mediation platforms (Geneva),
Turkey is poised to become chief intermediary on operational issues re #RussiaUkraineWar
un.org/en/black-sea-g… (3/18)
We already see (talk of prospective) Turkish mediation play out on multiple issues:
-#IAEA access to #ZaporizhzhiaNPP,
-prisoner exchanges,
-perhaps localized ceasefires in #Ukraine
The result: besides hoping to score points domestically (elections are next year & the economy’s in trouble), #Erdogan underscores Turkey’s centrality to the West and non-West alike. Turkey's enhanced self-confidence manifests in foreign policy moves: (5/18)
Threatening another operation in Northern Syria. Escalation in the Aegean. And being difficult on the accession of #Finland/#Sweden to #NATO, with all eyes on talks today: ft.com/content/957b76… (6/18)
But relative to pre-February #Turkey has also increased its leverage vis #Russia: Though there’s no indication of #Russian withdrawal from #Syria, #Libya, #NagornoKarabakh, Moscow has reduced bandwidth in these theatres, giving #Turkey (& its allies) more room to manoeuvre (7/18)
Indicative of this trend: a more emboldened #Azerbaijan in Karabakh, or Turkish actions in Northern Syria.
But the picture’s complex: #Russia being consumed by #Ukraine also enhances leeway for 3rd actors (eg #Iran), setting in motion complicated 2nd-order dynamics: (8/18)
1) Heightened US/Israeli fears re: Iran’s latitude in #Syria & growing Iran-Russia defense cooperation. Friction between @CENTCOM & Iranian militias in Northeast Syria this week are indicative: centcom.mil/MEDIA/PRESS-RE… (9/18)
2) Heightened #Turkey-#Iran competition in the region. However, as @hamidrezaazizi notes👇 this need not play out across the board

And it’s also not like #Russia will fully cede influence to #Iran in Syria.

It'll remain a complex game. (10/18)
I'm not saying #Turkey will now necessarily go against #Russia to pursue its goals. Rumors regarding Turkish normalization with #Assad could be indicative of a receptiveness to dealing with the Kurdish issue through multiple paths.

Probably too early to tell, though (11/18)
Still, the bottom line from #Turkey’s view is this: Enhanced wiggle room -- vis-à-vis #Russia -- in multiple areas beyond the Black Sea. (12/18)
Next: the economic front. Here, the balance sheet for #Turkey is complicated:
Higher food & energy prices due to #RussiaUkraineWar are bad. #Turkey also desperately needs FDI, which #Russia cannot provide. But there’s opportunities: (13/18)
#Turkey fills voids in Russian market left by Western biz. Akkuyu NPP goes ahead. 💰transfers by Rosatom, Turkey paying in RUB for some gas imports & adopting the Mir payment system, appear to be pieces of an effort meant to ease Turkey’s FX crisis (14/18) al-monitor.com/originals/2022…
So, where are we going with all this?
The future of Turkish economic gains & political/military leverage vis-a-vis both #NATO & #Russia will depend on the trajectory of #RussiaUkraineWar -- its longevity & the scope of Russian gains vs losses in #Ukraine. (15/18)
Amid low-level protracted war, there's net gains as described - but they remain contingent on external factors (global economy, 3rd actors).
I'd argue that #Russia either winning in Ukraine (or taking its Black Sea coast) OR suffering a crushing defeat could worry Ankara: (16/18)
On the former scenario, #Turkey doesn't want an expansionist Russia in its neighborhood.

The latter scenario's contingent:
-a “humbled” Russia cutting losses in #Ukraine would be +
-a “humiliated” Russia could be viewed as dangerous (lash out, destabilise internally) (17/18)
Finally, there's the Q of how #Turkey elections will impact all this: A new government would likely take steps to ease friction with US/NATO (eg over S-400), including to ease pressure on the economy, but would not fundamentally alter its approach to #RussiaUkraineWar (18/18)

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More from @HannaNotte

Jul 25
Yday, #Lavrov’s confirmation in #Cairo that #Russia seeks to “help the Ukrainian people to free themselves” from their regime gained - understandably -considerable attention in Western capitals.

But it might obscure other important aspects of #Lavrov’s visit to #Egypt. A 🧵1/14
There was much hype around #Putin meeting #Iranian & #Turkish leaders last week

But #Lavrov's engaged the Arabs extensively since Feb, visiting Algeria, Oman, Bahrain, Saudi. He also hosted other Arab FMs in Moscow

Now Egypt, where he also engaged the League of Arab States 2/14
This effort to engage evenly – Iran, Turkey, Israel, Arabs – is a long-standing feature of #Russia’s MENA policy, but will become more important in light of Western #sanctions.

Losing further friends would be costly, even in a region that’s of 2ndary importance to #Russia. 3/14
Read 14 tweets
May 29
The imperative that we must not waver in supporting #Ukraine is reinforced by a factor we often overlook in our #West-centric bubble:

#Russia is not isolated globally.

Pushing back against Russia thus 1) takes extra effort & 2) is of strategic importance beyond #Ukraine (1/11)
For proof that #Russia is not isolated, look toward big parts of Asia, LatAm, Africa, Middle East. Voting patterns at #UNGA. Who hasn’t joint sanctions against #Russia. How media beyond the "West" reports on the war in #Ukraine. And most of all: Look at #China and #India. (2/11)
Let’s take #MiddleEast: Sure, there’s few staunch supporters of #Russia (Syria). Most "sit on the fence": Reluctant to join sanctions; Saudis/UAE won't pump more oil; Even #NATO ally (!) #Turkey & closest US ally #Israel tread cautiously due to security concerns vis Russia (3/11)
Read 11 tweets
Apr 18
Many worry that #Russia might turn to #ChemicalWeapons in #Ukraine, as things go increasingly poorly for it on the battlefield.

In my latest for the @washingtonpost, I examine the (limited) options to deter/punish such a horrible scenario: washingtonpost.com/outlook/2022/0…

The #USA/#NATO have few good options for deterring #Russia’s use of #ChemicalWeapons (CW) in #Ukraine - or punishing such use after the fact, since “the toolkit of punishments includes the very deterrents that failed to change Moscow’s calculus in the first place.” /2
I examine the lessons from multiple failures to deter #ChemicalWeapons use in #Syria, concluding: “It is hard to prevent a highly motivated actor from chemical use, especially if the deterring side fails to respond decisively to the first crossing of the “red line.” /3
Read 9 tweets
Apr 11
What will happen, should #Russia use #ChemicalWeapons (CW) in #Ukraine as it escalates in the Donbas?

Russia’s tactics @OPCW & UNSC over CW use in #Syria & the Navalny poisoning offer good indications.

Bottom line: Attribution/accountability will be a very hard lift

Thread /1
A few weeks ago, US/#NATO officials raised alarm over possible Russian CW use in #Ukraine (framed by #Russia as false-flag op conducted by UA “radicals”), warning this would be “game changer” & would elicit an “aggressive response”. Yet, no clear red line was communicated. /2
Meanwhile, a #NATO official suggested that, were there to be a CW attack delivered by mil. means, attribution to #Russia would be “immediate”. The key Q, so said official, was thus: "Is #Russia going to want to stay below the threshold of attribution?” /3
Read 18 tweets
Apr 6
Speaking w/some contacts in #Russia to try to understand evolving sentiments in society re: #RussiaUkraineWar, 3 factors stand out for me:

1. Adaptive behaviour
2. "Besieged fortress"
3. State propaganda working wonders

A thread. /1
1. Adaptive behaviour: Many Russians say "what is expected of them" - they support the #Kremlin on #Ukraine. They might (or not!) hold different views privately, but perceived social pressures + fear of reprisal drive adaptive behaviour - so you can best cope in everyday life /2
2. Besieged fortress: Adaptive behaviour is amplified by a sense among many Russians that their isolation& life under sanctions will be for a long time. Plus, whether you wanted the war or not, Russia is now "mobilized" against immense outside pressures. Result: consolidation. /3
Read 6 tweets
Mar 28
Having worked in Moscow when #Russia intervened in #Syria in 2015 & engaged RUS officials/experts on #Syria for yrs, I see 5 parallels in approach to #Ukraine vs #Syria

1. Sequential war
2. Encirclement/corridors
3. "Human shield" claims
4. Foreign fighters
5. CW claims

1. Sequential war: RUS recently termed 1st phase of #UkraineWar done, announcing focus on Donbas. In #Syria war, Russia had declared new phase in 2017, establishing de-escalation zones (DEZs) in Western parts, which freed up regime resources to take more territory toward the East
Once that was done, regime/Russia turned back & we saw sequential take-over of DEZs (E Ghouta, Homs, Deraa) in 2018 under guise of CT. Not at all to say that sequencing in Ukraine will be the same. Return of larger-scale fighting toward W Ukraine will depend on...
Read 13 tweets

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