After heavily bombing major cities in Ukraine following their initial advance into Ukrainian territory, the Russian forces have canceled their bid to send its four warships through the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits into the Black Sea upon Turkey’s request.

This is a significant action from Ankara as it is an ally of both the United States and Russia, which is why it has been cautious in its diplomatic moves in the recent week following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It can be remembered that a number of Russian warships navigated through the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits earlier in February, with Ropucha-class tank landing ships RTS Georgy Pobedonosets (016), RTS Olenegorsky Gornyak (012), and the Ivan Gren-class RTS Pyotr Morgunov entering the straits. Three amphibious warships soon followed with the RFS Minsk (127), RFS Korolev (130), RFS Kaliningrad (102), and a Kilo-class diesel-electric attack boat RTS Rostov-na-Donu (B-237) joining the fleet in Russian naval base Sevastopol in Crimea.

Turkey, a NATO member, is walking a metaphorical tightrope between its allies in the West and Russia. It is a country that has historically enjoyed good diplomatic relations between both Russia and Ukraine, which has led it to be in the middle of a war between the two countries.

Ankara has been careful of its diplomatic moves as not to alienate itself from both countries as Turkey is supplied by Russian gas, which accounts for 45% of Turkish imports, with Russians also playing a vital portion of Turkey’s tourism revenue as 20% of Turkey’s tourists are Russians. Furthermore, it can also be remembered that Turkey bought S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems from Moscow in 2017, amounting to $2.5 billion.

No Sanctions From Turkey

It can be remembered that Turkey has stayed silent on the fiscal and economic sanctions brought by the United States and the West, sanctions which have led the Russian ruble to fall in value and oil prices to shoot up amidst the conflict.