Monday, December 28, 2015

Failure of Tatarstan and Sakha to Obey Moscow on Turkey Ties Seen Threatening Russia with a Ukrainian Crisis within Its Borders

 Paul Goble

            Staunton, December 28 – In both a transparent act of intimidation and a reflection of the fragility of the Russian Federation, Elena Meygun of the portal says that the failure of Tatarstan and Sakha to obey Moscow’s orders to break ties with Turkey threatens to trigger two Ukraines within Russia’s own borders.

            Four of Russia’s six Turkic republics quickly followed Moscow’s November 27 call for them to break ties with the international TURKSOY cultural union, but a month later, two – Tatarstan and Sakha – have not, suggesting, the analyst says that they have not yet made up their minds whether they are Russians or Turks (

            If the cooling of relations between Russia and Turkey continues, she continues, “the Russian Turkic peoples risk finding themselves in the very same situation in which not so long ago were drawn the Slavic peoples, the Russians and the Ukrainians. Alas, the degree of confrontation in the world is growing.”

            “The main thing is that [such a conflict] not spill over from the foreign policy arena to within [Russia.]” And Meygun says that “we will find out very soon” whether the leaders of these two republics have “the wisdom, sense of responsibility and breadth of political views” to avoid such a disaster.

            She cites the argument of Rais Suleymanov, a specialist on the Middle Volga at the Institute of National Strategy, who has frequently accused the Tatars in particular of disloyalty to Moscow.  By not speaking against Moscow, he says, “Tatarstan has sent signals to Turkey that we do not support Putin.”

            That is because, Suleymanov says, “only the naïve would assert that TURKSOY, the headquarters of which is in Ankara, is only about songs” and Turkey’s “’soft power.’”  But Tatar nationalists are pushing hard not to break relations with it, and Putin himself has not weighed in on this issue at a time when Kazan is seeking to retain the office of republic president.

            Although four of the six Turkic republics have done what Moscow wants, there is evidence that they did so reluctantly and have gone out of their way to stress that ending ties with a Turkish government operation in no way signals any lessening of their desire to have close ties with Turkey and the Turkish people.

            Thus, when the Chuvash National Congress came out in support of Putin’s policy on Turkey four days ago, its speakers indicated that this action was only about the governments involved and not about the peoples. In time, that may be an equally large problem for Moscow ( and

            One indication of that possibility is an article by Kyamran Agayev on the portal.  The Moscow commentator argues that the Turkish crisis is now affecting the Turkic peoples of Russia and leading them to conclude that as in Stalin’s time, the Kremlin is leading an anti-Turkic crusade that will harm them as well (

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