Russo-Turkish Standoff: Lawmakers in Moscow suggest annulling 1921 Treaty of Friendship

Two Communist lawmakers at the Russian State Duma have appealed to President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to revoke a 1921 treaty with Turkey on “friendship and fraternity”, Russian media reported on Monday.

According to Russia’s Izvestia daily, Sergei Obukhov and Valery Rashkin said in their letter that Turkey was turning increasingly “aggressive” toward Russia, Izvestia reported, citing a copy of the letter.

“We should consider a possibility of legal review of all Russian-Turkish agreements that are unfavorable for our country and its allies. Ankara must understand what the escalation of the conflict could be fraught with for it. Only this can bring it to earth and prevent it from carrying out new provocations,” Obukhov told Izvestia.

The initiative has been supported by another minority faction, Spravedlivaya Rossiya. According to State Duma member Oleg Pakholkov, the Moscow treaty was signed to the detriment of Russia’s interests.

Obukhov noted that “two of the three South Caucasian republics – Georgia and Armenia – did not recognize the terms of the treaty considering it unfair.” “One should realize that in 1921 the Bolshevik (Soviet) government was literally hanging by a single thread: the foreign intervention and civil war continued. Under those circumstances Soviet Russia could not speak from a position of strength and impose more favorable terms of the treaty on Turkey,” the parliamentarian said, as quoted by Asbarez.com.

The newspaper notes that under the treaty “the former Kars region and the southern part of the former Batumi region that were part of the Russian Empire since 1878 as well as former Surmalin district of Erivan Governorate that was part of the Russian Empire since 1828 with Mount Ararat were ceded to Turkey.”

Moscow’s relations with Ankara have been tense over Russia’s handling of its air campaign in Syria, and turned bitter after Turkey shot down a Russian bomber plane near the border with Syria on November 24, accusing it of violating Turkish airspace.

Moscow claims that its air strikes are aimed against Islamic terrorists, but Turkey and Western governments accuse Russia of targeting political opponents of Syrian President Bashar Assad in an attempt to prop up his regime.

Putin called Turkey’s shootdown of its warplane a “stab in the back by accomplices of terrorists”, and his government sharply curtailed Russia’s trade and tourism ties with Turkey.

Russia deploys some 3,000 troops in Armenia in a military base that guards the South Caucasus nation’s border with Turkey.