From Russia, With Love

Dr. Munr Kazmir
4 min readJul 18, 2019

Over the strenuous objections of NATO, the United States and European Union, Turkey takes delivery of an advanced Russian missile system.

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2017. (photo: Kremlin)

When then-Presidential candidate and moderate Republican Mitt Romney was asked during a 2012 debate what he considered would be America’s number one geopolitical threat over the next decade, he answered Russia.

Everyone made fun of him.

President Barack Obama, who was running for reelection against a challenge from Romney at the time, lead the chorus of derisive laughter. After Romney’s surprising answer, Obama famously quipped back, “The 80’s are calling, they want their foreign policy back.”

Democratic-leaning pundits and fans of the incumbent President, of which there were many, soon joined the chorus. Romney’s grasp of foreign policy was a running joke; Romney himself, the punchline.

Fast forward a scant few years later, and Russia has emerged, just as Romney predicted, as the number one geopolitical foe facing the U.S. and American interests abroad.

In spite of early indications that the two leaders liked each other and might work well together to deepen ties between the two world powers, Russia President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump have not been able to develop a serious rapport.

That the leaders seem to have kept each other at arms length is perhaps due to allegations Trump colluded with Russia in 2016 to interfere with the U.S. election.

Far from the cozy relationship Russian interference in 2016’s election in favor of Donald Trump might suggest, relations between the U.S. and Russia are the worst they’ve been since the Cold War.

No where is the divergence of American and Russian interests more directly on display currently that they are in Turkey.

Over the past years, Turkey, under the leadership of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has become increasingly distant from its allies in the West.

And closer than ever to its allies in the East. Under the leadership of Erdogan, Turkey has continued to slide inexorably towards Russia.

As Erdogan’s anti-American and anti-European rhetoric has heated up, it has mostly stayed within Turkish…