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Turkey-Russia flight restrictions to take effect


Turkey-Russia flight restrictions to take effect

Photo: Mikhail Metzel/TASS/Zuma Press

Russian flight restrictions to Turkey will take effect today.

The restrictions suspend most passenger flights between Russia and Turkey until June 1. Air traffic between Moscow and Istanbul will be limited to two flights per week. Despite Russia’s assertion that a significant rise in Turkish COVID-19 cases is the primary reason for the one-sided aviation ban, soaring diplomatic tensions are presumed to be an additional factor. Ankara’s increasing influence in post-Soviet Turkic countries, and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s recent talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky amid high Russo-Ukrainian tensions, have irritated the Kremlin.

Expect the restrictions to have an immediate negative effect on Turkey’s tourism sector, as Russians contribute a major component of Turkey’s annual revenue from tourism. While developing Ukrainian-Turkish ties irk Moscow, Ankara will continue to seek robust ties with Kiev by strengthening commercial relations, especially in agriculture, and by cooperating in the defence sector.

Ukraine’s interest in Turkey’s Bayraktar TB2 (UAV) drones and corvettes indicates that future defence deals between the two countries are highly likely. In the medium-term it is possible that Ankara may consider revisiting the terms of the Montreux Convention that limits Black Sea access to US and European navies. By doing so, Ankara would further alienate Moscow.

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