The Black Sea has long been developing into a strategic geopolitical “landscape” which is key for the entire European continent and the Caucasian region. The clash between two powers like Russia and Turkey was something to be expected. There are, theoretically, small chances for a large-scale military conflict between such powers.
I hope we will not witness any escalation caused by accidents, mismanagement of military forces or isolated incidents like the recent downing of a Russian military aircraft by Turkey on the Syrian border. Moreover, despite the strategic and military tensions between the two powers, there are strong economic interdependencies, particularly in the energy sector, which should ease the tensions. The evolution of Turkish-Russian relationships rests under the umbrella of strategic and political decisions of the western world.
Russia wants western economic sanctions to be lifted, and Turkey is a crucial player in the European efforts to manage migration from the Middle East, to buffer the spread of the Syrian conflict and Isis/Daesh and, in the long run, Turkey is vital to Europe’s energy security. Therefore, the relationship between Turkey and Russia should be regarded in the much larger context of relationships of the EU and Nato with each of the two actors.
These tensions between the two countries could affect upstream operations in the Black Sea. Military patrols, economic and environmental challenges, field unitization disputes, manipulation of domestic energy policies, the Bosporus and its potential challenges, challenges to the development of midstream infrastructure – these are just some of the tactics that could be brought into play to stall upstream developments in the Black Sea basin.