Russia and Turkey: a long history of turbulent relations

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tags: Russia, Turkey



In locking horns over Syria, Russia and Turkey are playing out the latest chapter in a rivalry that has spanned centuries.

Since the 1600s the two have lurched between conflict and uneasy friendship. But the war of words that has erupted since Turkey shot down a Russian jet it claims entered its airspace this month has notched tensions up to levels not seen for some time.

Russia and Turkey emerged as independent powers almost simultaneously – in 1380 and 1389. There followed a spectacular rise for the Ottoman empire, which expanded rapidly and had become a superpower by the 16th century.

Russia was relatively under resourced and surrounded by more powerful neighbours. Only in the late 16th century did it emerge as a major European power.

A direct rivalry with the Ottoman empire began in the 17th century when Russia joined the Holy League alliance with Poland and the Habsburg Empire, taking significant territory from the Ottomans – although importantly not Crimea.





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