Studies 17 October, 2022

Türkiye and the Debate on Neutrality in the Ukraine War

Emad Y. Kaddorah

Head of the Editing Department at the ACRPS. He holds a PhD in International Relations and Middle East Studies and an MA in Defense and Strategic Studies. He has published several books and peer-reviewed articles, including Turkish Foreign Policy: Orientations, Flexible Alliances, Power Politics (Doha/Beirut: ACRPS, 2021); The Rise of the GCC States and Turkey: Convergent and Divergent Regional Agendas (New Castle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2021). His research interests focus on Geopolitics, International Relations, the Gulf and Turkish Studies.


Turkish policy on the Ukraine war has been held under scrutiny from the outset. Western media has accused Ankara of pursuing a policy of neutrality rather than adhering to its member status of the NATO and following the sanctions policy, while the Turkish media has been quick to defend its government’s “neutral” response, reflecting Turkish popular opinion polls. But the problem lies in the following situation: If the confrontation escalates on a larger scale, what policy will Türkiye pursue? acrobat Icon Can Ankara succeed in keeping itself practically neutral through mediation? Will the West accept this position? Seeking to address these questions, this article begins by situating the concept of neutrality in the modern era and the legal and political conditions necessary, to determine if this description applies to Türkiye. Second, it investigates Türkiye’s somewhat neutral stance in the Second World War and explores the similarities to its current stance in the 2022 Ukraine war. Third, it analyses the reality of Turkish behaviour in the Ukraine war. Is Türkiye “neutral” or an involved “participant”? It also discusses the reactions of Western countries and Ukraine on Turkish policy during this war and investigates whether this policy also reflects the interests of Ankara's allies. Fourth, it seeks to answer why Ankara prefers neutrality and uncover the reasons explaining Turkish caution in responding to the Ukraine war. It concludes with a discussion of whether neutrality is an appropriate policy for Türkiye to pursue.