According to documents leaked by Pentagon, Turkey, an NATO ally of America, has repeatedly undermined Ukrainian war efforts. It considered weapons sales to Russians mercenaries, and helped Belarus evade sanctions.
According to one document reviewed and published by the Daily Caller, Turkish companies bought sanctioned goods from Belarus in order to resell them on European markets. They also resold European products to Russia, which helped Minsk and Moscow circumvent sanctions. Another document mentions intelligence that claims members of the Wagner Group, an Russian mercenary group linked to the Kremlin met with Turkish contacts in order to discuss buying weapons for use against Mali and Ukraine.
The classified documents were first leaked online on March 3rd on several social media platforms. One of these was a Discord group for Minecraft. After being removed from social media, the documents were later resurfaced in media reports. The Daily Caller acquired them in recent days.
This intelligence doesn’t indicate whether the arms talks were successful or if Turkey was taking steps to punish companies that helped Russia and Belarus avoid sanctions. A Turkish trade attache reported the business transactions in late 2022.
Yevgeny Privgozhin, a politically powerful Russian oligarch, established Wagner. He has been involved in much of the fighting for Russia in Ukraine and helped Russian President Vladimir Putin keep Russian troops out of danger. Putin’s domestic strategy to retain support for war has been to use mercenaries instead of conscripts in frontline fighting.
Wagner is also active abroad, and often contracted by African countries to carry out “counterterrorism” operations.
Turkey has been a key broker in multiple grain deals that have helped to ensure critical food shipments through the Black Sea. Turkey has also entered the geopolitical spotlight after Russia invaded Ukraine. Recep Tayyip Erdoan, Turkish President, has suggested that he is trying to broker a peaceful solution between Russia and Ukraine. However, significant progress has not been made.
Turkey, in addition to its transgressions as revealed by leaked documents has been a block to NATO expansion. After months of negotiations Finland joined the alliance on April 4. However, Ankara continues to block the addition Sweden. Ankara claims that Stockholm isn’t doing enough to fight Kurdish “terrorists”, who are hostile towards Turkey, in Sweden. Erdogan threatened to bomb Greece, another NATO ally in the latter part of 2022.
President Joe Biden and his Administration have been supportive of Turkey throughout all this and have praised its role as NATO ally. Biden has dismissed concerns that Turkey might block NATO expansion and the State Department repeatedly praised Ankara’s role in brokering grain deals.