Russian Invasion of Ukraine Detrimental to Turkey

Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

“… conflict… poses a significant risk to the Turkish defense industry.”

The accompanying articles highlight that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine poses significant risks to Turkey’s already troubled economy, energy security, and defense industry regardless of Turkey’s position in this conflict as it balances its NATO obligations with its relations with Russia.  According to the first article from globally read security news site al-Monitor, the war will have crippling consequences for the Turkish economy since Russia is Turkey’s key economic partner in many sectors, including tourism, construction, and energy.  The second article from anti-Turkish government daily Sözcü states that sanctions targeting the Russian banking system will negatively impact Russian projects in Turkey, including the construction of the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant that Turkey contracted to a Russian company for development.  The war in Ukraine will also make trade routes in the region insecure and negatively impact Turkey’s economic interests and trade with other countries in the region.  Furthermore, according to the Sözcü article, the war will likely disrupt the flow of natural gas to Turkey, leading to an energy crisis since Russia is the largest natural gas supplier to Turkish markets.  The two countries have nearly completed the construction of two natural gas pipelines carrying Russian natural gas to Turkey and some European countries.

The third article from independent Turkish news agency Anka Haber Ajansı highlights that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will also have significant implications for the Turkish defense industry.  Defense cooperation between Ukraine and Turkey is significantly larger than Turkey’s widely reported TB-2 drone export to Ukraine.  Ukraine’s two major firms in aviation engine and manufacturing, Ukrainian Motor Sich and Ivchenko Progress, a Ukrainian state-owned company, provide engines for the Turkish defense company Baykar’s Bayraktar Akıncı drone and the Turkish Aerospace Industries’ T929 ATAK 2 attack helicopter.  Turkey is also building a MilGem-class corvette for the Ukrainian navy, which the article notes, is one of the biggest exports for the Turkey’s defense industry.  The article points out that the conflict will hinder Turkey’s ability to sustain the supply of subsystems and products to its defense industry from Ukraine.


Amberin Zaman,“Russian invasion of Ukraine would spell more economic turbulence for Turkey,”al-Monitor (a globally read security news site with regionally based reporting),07 February 2022.

War would bring Turkey under intense pressure from its Western allies to join putative sanctions against Russia, a critical trading partner and supplier of natural gas. Turkey will do its best to remain neutral, as signaled anew by Erdogan in comments to reporters en route home from Kyiv.

Ukraine has bought at least 20 drones from Turkey since 2018 and has used one only once in combat against Russian-backed separatists in Donbas in October 2021, eliciting growls from Moscow.

However, Turkey’s worries go beyond having to balance its NATO commitments with Russia, a key economic partner and since 2016 security partner in Syria. An actual war could have crippling consequences for Turkey’s battered economy.

In Ukraine, Turkey’s flourishing defense cooperation would likely suffer in a Russian attack as well.

Recent deals between Turkey and Ukraine include the supply of gas turbines for Turkish-designed naval vessels by Ukraine’s Zorya Mashproekt. Ukraine has ordered four of the MilGem class corvettes for itself.

Tourism, which Erdogan is banking on to help with an economic recovery ahead of parliamentary and presidential elections that are scheduled to be held by 2023, is also at risk.

… At best, Turkey can provide the two sides with “an optional diplomatic channel of communication” through which their respective messages are relayed.

Source: Dünya Taşlardan,“Rusya-Ukrayna krizi Türkiye’yi nasıl etkiler? (How does the Russia-Ukraine crisis affect Turkey?),”Sözcü (an anti-Turkish government daily),22 January 2022.

A possible war may involve significant losses for Turkey. First of all, if there is a war situation in the Black Sea, it will be difficult for tourists to come from both Russia and Ukraine this summer. Another problem is that Turkey meets most of its wheat needs from Russia and Ukraine. Since the war situation will also affect these imports, there may be rapid price hikes in food products…

In case of war, natural gas pipelines such as TurkStream and BlueStream in the Black Sea, which seem to be an important source of income for Russia, may also be attacked. Such a case may lead to a natural gas crisis in Turkey. By inviting both the Ukrainian and Russian presidents to Turkey, Turkey is actually signaling that it will remain neutral in this crisis with its mediation offer…

Turkey does not recognize and does not implement the sanctions imposed by the USA and EU countries on Russia. In this sense, we can say that there is an understanding and cooperation between the two countries. Although Turkey may not implement the Russian sanctions, especially the sanctions that would be applied in the banking system will negatively affect the Russian projects in Turkey. The construction of Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant may be delayed.

Since there will be no dollar circulation, Russia may have to pause its projects. Again, as the Black Sea will become a war zone, the use of commercial roads will be difficult, which will be reflected in the prices.

Source: Arda Mevlütoğlu,“Turkey – Ukraine Defense Cooperation In Russia’s Crosshairs?,”Anka Haber Ajansı (an independent Turkish news agency based in Ankara),06 February 2022.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky signed several agreements on Feb. 3, during Erdogan’s visit to Kyiv. The deals included a free trade agreement and a pact on cooperation in advanced technologies, aviation, and space…

Turkey’s sale of armed drones to Ukraine has come under harsh criticism by Russia. The TB2, however, is not the only subject of the rapidly enhancing defense industry cooperation between Kyiv and Ankara. Ukraine has become a preferred supplier for Turkey, especially for engines. A potential conflict, therefore, poses a significant risk to the Turkish defense industry…

Ukraine has two major firms in aviation engine design and manufacturing, Motor Sich and Ivchenko Progress…

The Bayraktar TB2’s manufacturer, Baykar Savunma. has developed a strategic reconnaissance/surveillance and strike drone that is designated Bayraktar Akinci. The Akinci can be powered by various types of turboprop engines, among them the Ivchenko Progress AI-450T… Baykar Savunma signed another deal with Motor Sich for the MS500 engine for the Akinci drone.

The drones are not the only area of engine procurement from Ukraine. Turkish Aerospace Industries (TA) signed a contract with Motor Sich for the TV3-117 turboshaft engines last June for use with the prototypes of the T929 ATAK 2 next-generation attack helicopter project. The Ukrainian company is also offering the same engine for the T925 10-ton class general-purpose helicopter project of TA.

Marine gas turbine specialist Zorya Mashproekt has become a candidate for supplying gas turbines for Turkish-designed naval vessels, mainly for the MilGem class corvettes… The MilGem sale to the Ukrainian Navy is one of the biggest defense exports of the Turkish defense industry…

An armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine poses a major risk for sustaining the supply of subsystems and products to Turkey. The level of risk depends on the scale of the conflict.

In a limited-scale conflict scenario, where the clashes occur in and around the Donbas region, there is a lower risk of Ukrainian defense industry facilities being targeted by Russian armed forces…

The second scenario is a full-scale invasion of Ukraine by Russian armed forces. This scenario is the worst for Turkey and the region. In such a case, defense industry facilities as well as strategic industrial and infrastructure elements would be primary targets for the Russian military. The destruction of manufacturing facilities as well as the loss of skilled personnel would deal a devastating blow to the Ukrainian defense industry as well as to Turkish defense projects.

There may definitely be other scenarios involving intervention by external actors, diplomatic resolution, or various types of armed conflict. However, one thing is certain: a conflict of any type or scale would be a worst-case scenario for Turkey.

Image Information:

Image: Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
]Source: Russian Presidential Executive Office,, via Wikimedia,, Files from
|Attribution: CC-BY-4.0 | Russia photographs taken on 2020-03-05