Anti-Imperialism/Foreign Policy

Putin’s Turkish Nightmare

By Douglas MacGregor, The American Conservative

The revived geopolitical rivalry between Russia and Turkey spells trouble for Putin and his allies.

On the first of October 1939, just three days after the fall of Warsaw and Poland’s destruction at the hands of Soviet and German forces, Stalin summoned Turkey’s Foreign Minister, Mehmet Şükrü Saracoğlu, to a meeting in the Kremlin. For a brief period after the First World War the two states shared feelings of antipathy for the West. Stalin’s meeting with the Turkish minister changed this condition.

Was the British-French-Turkish Pact, Stalin asked, directed against the Soviet Union? Without waiting for an answer, Stalin reminded the Turkish foreign minister that Britain and France had not declared war on the Soviet Union even though he and the Germans had carved up Poland together. However, the British and French, Stalin warned, might still do so. In that case, roared Stalin, where would Turkey stand? Stalin, always the consummate bully, also noted ominously that, like Poland, Romania had too much territory.

Saracoğlu quickly reassured Stalin that Turkey could void the agreement with Britain and France in order to avoid war with Moscow. However, a week later, when the British military attaché inquired what Ankara would do if the British bombed the Baku oil fields, the British attaché reported that Turkey was begging for the chance to “settle scores with Stalin.”



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