Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said that his country never truly considered Turkey as a strategic ally but only as a close partner, amid growing tensions between the two states in the Middle East. Lavrov made the comment in an interview with Russian radio stations yesterday which were reported by Turkish news outlet BirGün. “Such a partnership,” he added, “has a strategic nature in many areas.”
The minister acknowledged that Russia and Turkey have taken opposing sides in regional conflicts over the years, giving the example of the recently-reignited conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh.
“We do not agree with the position voiced by Turkey that was also expressed several times by [Azeri] President Aliyev… It is not a secret that we cannot agree with a statement that a military solution to the conflict is permissible.”
Both Ankara and Moscow are currently embroiled on a number of fronts, including Syria, where Russia backs the Assad regime against the Syrian opposition backed by Turkey. In Libya, meanwhile, Turkey backs the UN-recognised Libyan Government of National Accord in Tripoli while Russia is behind renegade Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar in the east.
The southern Caucasus is the latest of those fronts, with Turkey supporting Azerbaijan against Russian-backed Armenian forces that occupy the internationally-recognised Azeri region of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Despite their opposing sides in all of those conflicts, they have worked together regularly on political deals and ceasefires, and Russian and Turkish forces have not yet clashed directly, relying instead on their proxies for regional influence.