Turkey’s Erdogan Delivers Two Stinging Defeats to Vladimir Putin in Just One Day – RedState

A two-day meeting between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in advance of the July 11 NATO summit handed Zelensky two major victories and dealt two stinging blows to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The first victory was Erdogan’s unambiguous support for Ukrainian membership in NATO.

Ukraine has been pressing for a fast track to NATO membership for over a year. While all of NATO’s members have agreed that Ukraine will become a member after the war ends, at least 20 of NATO’s 31 members have said they are in favor of giving Ukraine an accelerated path to membership. Turkey giving its blessing, especially given its resistance to Sweden’s membership, was unexpected. This is a clear signal to Putin that one of his bullsh** reasons for kicking off the invasion of Ukraine has had the opposite of its intended effect, like driving historically neutral Finland and Sweden into NATO. With now 21 NATO nations willing to grant membership to Ukraine even in the event of a “frozen conflict” it seems that Putin has given away what he already had and received nothing in return.

The second item was a very personal insult directed at Putin.

In May 2022, the last defenders of the Azovstal iron and steel works in Mariupol surrendered after a heroic 82-day siege; Mariupol Surrenders to the Russian Army After Epic 82-Day Siege. Over 1,700 Ukrainian soldiers were declared as prisoners of war by the Russian Army but as many a 2,500 may have been taken into custody. Among the prisoners were the leaders of the defense. So it came as a shock that in September, Turkey was able to negotiate a prisoner exchange that included the high-profile commanders of the Azovstal defenders, including senior officers of the Azov regiment that Russia portrayed as neo-Nazis; see Vladimir Putin Agrees to Swap 215 Ukrainian PWs Including Foreign Volunteers, for 55 Russians. What’s up With That?

Five of the senior commanders were supposed to be interned in Turkey until the end of the war. Today, along with Turkey’s support for accelerated NATO accession, Zelensky got a very special present.

Denys Prokopenko, Svyatoslav Palamar, Serhiy Volynsky, Oleh Khomenko, Denys Shleha, all prominent commanders at the Azovstal strongpoint are now back home in Ukraine.

Russia isn’t terribly happy.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov claimed Ukraine and Turkey “violated” prisoner exchange agreements amid the return of Ukrainian commanding officers who defended the Azovstal steel plant from Turkey.

Peskov claimed Moscow was “not notified” about the officers’ transfer to Ukraine.

Turkey has tried to tread the razor’s edge in the war between Russia and Ukraine and use its good offices to facilitate diplomatic agreements. The Black Sea Grain Initiative. On the other hand, Turkey has supplied equipment and munitions to the Ukrainian military, including drones, Mine-Resistant, Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles, and cluster munitions; see US Releases Cluster Munitions to Ukraine in Stopgap Effort to Aid Ukraine’s Offensive. Turkey’s resistance to Sweden’s NATO accession has also been viewed as Erdogan trying to curry favor with Putin while pretending to be a member of NATO.

The message from the two events is clear. Turkey is clearly on the side of NATO. In particular, the prisoner release can only be interpreted as a middle finger directed at Putin. In my opinion, that only happened because of the Prigozhin mutiny and how weak and small it made Putin look; see Russian Coup Update: It Ends With a Whimper as Prigozhin Goes Into Exile but Will Anything Ever Be the Same?. The implication of these two actions is that Turkey has looked at how the pieces are lining up and has decided that there is little to be gained from pulling its punches on its support of Ukraine.


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