Will Turkey side with the United States, its NATO ally, and let more U.S. military ships into the Black Sea to assist Georgia? Or will it choose Russia?
A Turkish refusal would seriously impair American efforts to support the beleaguered Caucasus republic. Ever since Turkey joined NATO in 1952, it has hoped to never have to make a choice between the alliance and its Russian neighbor to the North. Yet that is precisely the decision before Ankara. If Turkey does not allow the ships through, it will essentially be taking Russia's side.
Whether in government or in the military, Turkish officials have for several years been expressing concern about U.S. intentions to "enter" the Black Sea. Even at the height of the Cold War, the Black Sea remained peaceful due to the fact that Turkey and Russia had clearly defined spheres of influence. But littoral countries Romania and Bulgaria have since joined NATO, and Ukraine and Georgia have drawn closer to the Euro-Atlantic alliance. Ankara has expressed nervousness about a potential Russian reaction.