The governments of Turkey and Ukraine have signed a series of military cooperation agreements in Istanbul to deepen their defense partnership in what appears an effort to counterbalance Moscow’s presence in the Black Sea region.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan oversaw the signing of a “goodwill” agreement concerning the defense industry and a “military framework agreement,” officials said, although details of the agreements were not immediately disclosed.
“Turkey sees Ukraine as a key country for the establishment (of) stability, security, peace and prosperity in the region,” Erdogan said following the signing ceremony.
Zelenskiy said the agreements pave the way for “new opportunities.”
“Cooperation in the defense industry is important for the development of our strategic partnership and I am happy that we are strengthening it today,” he said.
It is important to point out that last year, Kyiv reached an agreement with Istambul for the purchase of several Turkish-made UAVs.
It was also anticipated that the two countries are also reportedly engaging in discussions to develop an aircraft engine.
The signing of the defensive agreements comes as the armed conflict in the nearby Caucasus region of Nagorno-Karabakh is putting a strain on Turkey’s relations with Moscow.
Istambul has historically been backing Azerbaijan’s side in the dispute, while Moscow has a military base in Armenia and a security pact requiring Russia to intervene if its ally is attacked.
In a delicate diplomatic effort, the Kremlin has sought to both maintain warm diplomatic ties with Azerbaijan and avoid ruining its economic relations with Turkey.
Indeed, although Turkey and Russia have strong economic ties and are trying to accommodate their mutual interests in Syria and Libya, the two regional powers have remain geopolitical rivals.
For example, Erdogan on Friday 16 October reiterated Turkey’s refusal to recognize Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
“Turkey has not recognized Crimea’s illegal annexation and it never will,” Erdogan said.
Zelenskiy meanwhile, presented Erdogan with a state medal for his support for Ukraine’s “territorial integrity.”