Recently, a Russo-Turkish strategic relationship has emerged. Trade in general and energy (gas) supplies in particular play a key role in shaping ties between the two countries. But Moscow and Ankara seem to be on the same page too with regard to major regional issues as well: the Iraq war, Iran's nuclear program, security in the Black Sea-Caspian area, and "frozen conflicts" in the South Caucasus. Despite being a NATO member and an EU candidate country, Turkey appears to be much closer to Russia than to the West on all these issues.
Moreover, with the Iraq situation becoming ever more volatile in the aftermath of the U.S. invasion, and the anti-Turkish sentiments on the rise in many European countries, Ankara is deeply dissatisfied with the nature of its relations with Western powers and is, therefore, seeking new strategic allies. In this context, Moscow looks like a natural and valuable partner. Russia, for its part, is also going through a rough patch in its relations with the West and is looking for prospective allies.
Interestingly, the Turkish-Russian rapprochement is accompanied by heated internal debates on Russia and Turkey's international identities and the re-emergence in both countries of Eurasianism -- the ideology that, among other things, promotes historical and cultural affinity between Russia and Turkey.
Igor Torbakov is a historian and analyst who specializes in the political affairs of the former Soviet Union. He holds an MA in History from Moscow State University and a PhD from the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences. He was a Research Scholar at the Institute of Russian History, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow; a Visiting Scholar at the Kennan Institute, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington DC; a Fulbright Scholar at Columbia University, New York; and a Visiting Fellow at Harvard University. He is now based in Istanbul, Turkey and writes regularly on these issues for a variety of publications.