Britain, Turkey and the Soviet Union, 1940–45: Strategy, by Nicholas Tamkin (auth.)

By Nicholas Tamkin (auth.)

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Additional info for Britain, Turkey and the Soviet Union, 1940–45: Strategy, Diplomacy and Intelligence in the Eastern Mediterranean

Sample text

68 For their part, the Yugoslavs were under no illusions about the effectiveness of Turkish military support. Some months earlier, the British military attaché in Ankara, General Allan Arnold, had informed his Yugoslav colleague that ‘the Turkish army . . ’69 The liaison mission in Ankara agreed ‘that [Turkey] is completely unfitted to fight Germany beyond her own frontiers . . ’71 Hitler was presumably well informed, both about the absence of political will for a stand against Germany, and about the Turkish and Yugoslav military weakness.

77 Even at this stage, however, the British view of Soviet–Turkish relations remained inconsistent. The FO reacted with suspicion to the coincidence of Soviet recognition of Rashid Ali and a Turkish offer of mediation in the Anglo-Iraqi dispute. ’78 These suspicions proved unfounded, but they reflected the remarkable schizophrenia in British policy towards both the Soviet Union and Turkey during the first half of 1941. The British trusted neither Russia nor Turkey to refrain from policies detrimental to Britain, yet they chastised both parties – particularly the Turks – for failing to trust each other and establish an anti-German front.

Intelligence indicated that the Balkans were likely to The Balkan Front, October 1940 to April 1941 37 be overwhelmed in short order by Germany. British policy turned on Ankara’s likely response, when left alone to face the (apparently imminent) German threat. A policy aimed at bringing Turkey into the war immediately assumed that Turkey could not be relied upon to resist that threat alone, and that the Anatolian bulwark was in any case imperilled. 33 Nonetheless, the Southern Department’s conviction that Turkey could not be moved from armed neutrality initially held sway.

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