The Uneasy Relationship: Turkey's Foreign Policy as Regards the Soviet Union at the Outbreak of the Second World War
Keywords: Turkey, Soviet Union, Second World War
In view of growing threat of the Axis powers, by the beginning of 1939 a security agreement with the Soviet Union came high on the list of Turkish priorities. Turkey would also co-operate with Britain in the Balkans and the Mediterranean. Ankara proposed a triangular Turco-Anglo-Soviet relationship. Turkey sought to search for the illusive Soviet connection to parallel its signing of mutual assistance agreement with Britain on 12 May 1939. But the Germano-Soviet Non-aggression Pact of 23 August 1939 upset the entire international balance and put Turkey into a delicate position. Nonetheless Ankara still considered that arriving at an accord with Moscow would not be incompatible with its engagements towards the West. Saracoğlu's mission to Muscow in the autumn of 1939 failed because of Russia's attempts to unilaterally amend the Montreux Straits Convention and to draw Turkey away from the West. During Saracoğlu-Molotov talks, Kremlin endeavoured to obtain a foothold at the Straits in order at once prevent others from commanding the warm water approach to its Black Sea ports and to place itself in a position to exercise a hand in Mediterranean affairs. Relations between Turkey and Russia thus entered into a new period of mutual distrust and tension.