Center for American Progress

RELEASE: Fourth Voices from Turkey Essay Examines the Showdown Between Turkey and Russia
Press Release

RELEASE: Fourth Voices from Turkey Essay Examines the Showdown Between Turkey and Russia

Washington, D.C. — Today, the Center for American Progress, the Istanbul Policy Center, and the Istituto Affari Internazionali released the fourth in a series of essays written by prominent Turkish intellectuals on the big issues affecting Turkey. The series—called “Voices from Turkey”—is part of Turkey 2023, a trilateral initiative that aims to outline a long-term prosperity vision for Turkey, explore its role in Europe and the trans-Atlantic relationship, assess the state of the republic and its institutions, and examine its position in the region and the world 100 years after its foundation.

The Turkish government’s decision to shoot down a Russian plane violating Turkish airspace in November 2015 has raised tensions between Turkey and Russia and erased 15 years of effort to build cooperation between the two long-time rivals, writes Soli Özel, a professor of international relations at Kadir Has University in Istanbul. Turkey’s move has resulted in painful economic sanctions imposed by Russia, Turkey’s second-largest trading partner, though the countries have insulated their crucial energy ties. Russia has also targeted Turkish-backed forces in Syria, setting back their efforts against the Assad regime. Özel unpacks the turbulent relationship between Russia and Turkey, examining the fraught history, mutual dependency, and areas of fierce strategic competition. Özel concludes that the November incident saw Turkey break “the cardinal rule of Turkish diplomacy since Ottoman times” by taking on a major power without the backing of any other.

The Voices from Turkey series will continue with forthcoming essays on relations with the European Union, Turkish foreign policy toward the Middle East, and Turkish humanitarian assistance in the weeks to come.

Click here to read the essay.

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, contact Tom Caiazza at or 202.481.7141.