Ethem Sancak, the owner of BMC, Turkey’s largest commercial and military vehicle manufacturer, and an ardent supporter of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was NATO’s fault and that Ankara’s membership in the alliance is a disgrace for his country, in an interview with Russian network RBK, Independent Türkçe reported on Friday.
On Tuesday, six days after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a “special military operation” in Ukraine which quickly turned into a full-scale invasion, Sancak went to Moscow with a delegation from Turkey’s neo-nationalist Homeland Party (VP).
He gave a 15-minute interview to RBK, accusing NATO of responsibility for the war in Ukraine and of staging a failed coup in Turkey in 2016.
— Abdullah Bozkurt (@abdbozkurt) March 4, 2022
A controversial military coup attempt took place in Turkey on the night of July 15, 2016 which, according to many, was a false flag aimed at entrenching the authoritarian rule of Erdoğan by rooting out dissidents and eliminating powerful actors such as the military in his desire for absolute power.
VP leader Doğu Perinçek, a controversial figure in Turkish politics known for his anti-Western stance, time and again said the post-coup crackdown on Turkey’s military was aimed at purging the army of pro-NATO officers.
Sancak is a close associate of Perinçek, who also voiced strong support for Erdoğan after the failed coup.
“NATO is the main culprit in the issue between Russia and Ukraine. NATO is a cancerous tumor from the past. NATO supported the terrorists and attempted a putsch in 2016. We won’t be joining the sanctions [against Russia] because if Russia falls, Turkey will be partitioned,” Sancak was quoted by Independent Türkçe as saying.
Sancak also said Turkey would not sell any more armed drones to Ukraine, adding that Ankara “did not know” that the drones would be used against Russia.
Ukraine’s armed forces have 20 Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 armed drones, sold by Turkey over the course of two years. Some experts believe the number of TB2s in the Ukrainian arsenal could be even higher.
The TB2s have a proven track record against several adversaries in conflicts in Libya, Syria and Nagorno-Karabakh.
The use of TB2 drones in the war has been a clear source of tension between Turkey and Russia.
According to many analysts, Turkey is walking a diplomatic tightrope in the Russia-Ukraine war.
Despite being on opposing sides of several conflicts, including in Syria and Libya, Erdoğan has worked hard to forge close ties with Putin.
Ankara has bought Russian missile defense systems at the expense of straining ties with its NATO partners and the two countries even managed to leave behind a crisis sparked by the downing of a Russian fighter jet by Turkey in 2015.
Ukraine is also a close ally of Turkey. Erdoğan visited Kyiv last month to sign a deal on expanding drone production in Ukraine.