Press Releases | May 13, 2022

Report on Turkey’s Collusion with Russia in Ukraine

(New York) — A new report shows that by refusing to join international sanctions against Russia, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has undermined NATO’s unified response to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, thereby turning a blind eye to the slaughter of Ukrainians.

Since the outbreak of war, Erdoğan has positioned himself as a primary mediator between Russia and Ukraine and has been at the forefront of cease-fire talks. Yet while Erdogan has called for peace, Turkey has consistently refused to join its NATO allies in sending weapons to Ukraine and in sanctioning Russian oligarchs, companies and banks.

Turkey’s mixed response to Russian aggression is documented in a report published today by Columbia University’s Program on Peacebuilding and Human Rights with research support from the Turkish Democracy Project (TDP). The report provides information on efforts by Russian oligarchs to protect their assets by harboring their superyachts in Turkey, buying high-end Turkish real estate, and setting up bank accounts in Turkey to shield their assets from foreclosure.

In addition to their economic relations, the report asserts that Turkey and Russia constitute an “axis of autocracy”, with both governments seeking to consolidate ever more executive power while fostering rampant corruption and committing widespread human rights abuses.

Commenting on the report, David L. Phillips of Columbia University and advisor to TDP said:

Erdogan is having it both ways. He pays lip service to peace, while at the same time deepening his country’s ties with Putin’s pariah regime. Turkey’s ties to Russia put it in a position of peril. Turkish private and state banks face the possibility of severe penalties that could include Turkey’s ability to borrow from international markets.”

“Turkey’s cooperation with Russia must not be rewarded by allowing its purchase of seventy F-16 fighter jets and modernization kits from Lockheed Martin,” adds Phillips. “The Biden administration should be more astute in differentiating friend from foe.”

Madeleine Joelson, Executive Director of the Turkish Democracy Project also commented:

Inflation in Turkey, which recently hit a 20-year high, is compounded by the rising cost of energy, wheat and fertilizer resulting from the Ukraine warErdogan gains from maintaining close ties with Russia while appearing to be on NATO’s side. Turkey’s collusion with Russia must be confronted.

To view Columbia University’s Program on Peacebuilding and Human Rights’ report, click here.

About David L. Phillips

David L. Phillips is Director of the Program on Peace-building and Rights at Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights. Phillips has worked as a Senior Adviser to the United Nations Secretariat (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (1999-2000). He was a Senior Adviser and Foreign Affairs Expert to the

U.S. Department of State during the administrations of Presidents Clinton (Bureau for European Affairs 1999-2001), Bush (Bureau for Near Eastern Affairs 2001), and Obama (Bureau for South and Central Asian Affairs 2010-2011).