On February 14, 2021, Russian expert Gevorg Mirzayan published an article, titled "How Russia Can Block Erdoğan's Imperial Ambitions," in the Russian media outlet Vzglyad, reacting to a segment aired by the Turkish state channel TRT1, which showed a map of Turkish spheres of influence predicted by 2050.
The map and the predictions were taken from the 2009 book The Next 100 Years by American political researcher George Friedman, founder of the Stratfor Center for Research in International Politics. According to Friedman's book, Turkey's sphere of influence by 2050 will include: Greece, Southern Cyprus, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Yemen, Gulf countries, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Crimea, Turkmenistan, and Kazakhstan. It is worth noting that TRT1 showed the predictions without disproving them. The segment on TRT1 was strongly criticized in Russia.
Commenting on the map, Mirzayan wrote that Turkey is Russia's important economic partner, but Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's Pan-Turkic and Pan-Islamist ideologies are threatening Russia's interests. "Erdoğan does not promise to refuse to interfere in the internal affairs of the Russian Federation – after all, this contradicts the ideologies of pan-Turkism and neo-Islamism: the ideologies that underlie Erdoğan's entire system of power, his entire vision of Turkey's future as a great power," Mirzayan asserted.
According to Mirzayan, Russia should remain alert and not allow Turkey to take over regions under Moscow's influence. "What we should not do is allow it a free ride and let the loyalty of Russian regions to be 'switched' to Ankara. We should continue cooperation in many areas (nuclear energy, trade, defense) – but at the same time regularly clean up pro-Turkish organizations in Crimea, the Krasnodar Territory, and other regions of the Russian Federation, which the FSB has, in fact, been doing successfully in recent years," Mirzayan concluded.
Below is Mirzayan's article:
"'You can get hurt because of such exorbitant appetites.' With these words, Russia is reacting to the forecast shown on Turkish TV, about the future expansion of Turkey's influence, including the southern regions of Russia. Does this forecast correspond to Erdoğan's real intentions and what should be Russia's response to Turkey's imperial ambitions?
"There is an old parable about the frog and the scorpion.
"Once a scorpion asked a frog to take him across the river on her back. 'I'm not crazy. As soon as I start swimming, you will sting me,' the frog replied. 'But if I sting you, you will drown – and I will drown with you. And I don't want to die,' the scorpion reasoned. The frog agreed that this argument was reasonable and logical, so she put the scorpion on her back and swam across the river. But in the middle of the way, the scorpion stung her. The dying frog asked: 'But why? You will die with me.' 'Because I am a scorpion, and this is my nature,' the sinking scorpion told her.
"Likewise, in politics this kind of 'nature' exists in the form of ideologies that dictate the behavior of certain political elites.
"It is impossible to force radical Islamists to live within national borders. Their ideology does not recognize these borders, they are always focused on expansion, on the export of the 'Islamist revolution,' and therefore Russia is fighting against Islamic terrorism not only on its own territory, but in other countries as well.
"It is possible and necessary to cooperate with countries dominated by liberal globalists (after all, these are our largest trading partners), but it is pointless to ask them to stop interfering in our internal affairs. They will do it anyway – such is the essence of liberal globalism. Therefore, Russia is no longer asking; it is demonstrating its readiness to hit the offenders hard on the hands (which explains the recent statement by Sergei Lavrov about his readiness to break off the relations with the European Union if the latter adopts tough anti-Russian sanctions).
"Finally, Turkey is our important economic partner and neighbor, an incidental ally in ousting the Americans from the Middle East and South Caucasus and an ally in building a multipolar world. The Turkish leader, Recep Erdoğan, is one of the most powerful Eurasian leaders and, as President Putin has noted, 'a man of his word.' That is why Erdoğan does not promise to refuse to interfere in the internal affairs of the Russian Federation – after all, this contradicts the ideologies of pan-Turkism and neo-Islamism: the ideologies that underlie Erdoğan's entire system of power, his entire vision of Turkey's future as a great power."
"Flashes of this ideology regularly appear in public space. Thus, there is an analyst in America – George Friedman. He claims to be a geopolitician and regularly makes various forecasts for the Stratfor project. One of these forecasts concerns Turkey's future political expansion, which will encompass (according to Friedman) not only the countries of the South Caucasus and Central Asia, but also the territory of the Russian Federation: Crimea, the North Caucasus, the Krasnodar and the Stavropol Territories and the Volga region. A map with this expanded sphere of influence of Turkey was shown on the air of the Turkish channel TGRT Haber – with the anchor's comments. Naturally, nobody said 'this is a lie, we do not need it.'
"It is not surprising that the Russian Federation (which did not pay special attention to the publication itself – you never know what fantasies might occur to Mr. Friedman) reacted extremely negatively to the Turkish broadcast. 'If they want to test the strength of the Russian spirit and of our weapons, let them try,' said Andrei Krasov, First Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Defense Committee. 'We can only advise the Turkish side to abandon the dreams of [conquering] the Russian territory, otherwise [Turkey] might hurt itself due to such exorbitant appetites,' said Yuri Gempel, head of the Crimean parliament's committee on people's diplomacy and interethnic relations.
"In Crimea, these 'dreams' are taken seriously.
"Unlike most other Russians, Crimeans live in a region in which the Turks have invested a lot of money for years to destabilize – they have financed the local Crimean Tatar communities and made them switch their loyalty to Ankara. Turkey makes similar 'investments' in groups of its supporters in the North Caucasus, the Volga region, the Krasnodar Territory – in general, in all the regions of Russia indicated on the map.
"True, Turkish political scientists are now trying to backpedal, to say that 'the Russians have misunderstood,' that it's an American map, and it was not shown by a state TV channel. And Turkey has no such plans, not even close. Supposedly, someone just wants to make Ankara quarrel with Moscow. And some Russian politicians speak in the same spirit. 'It seems to me that such information is deliberately thrown in to see the reaction. But we will not react to this,' Senator Vladimir Dzhabarov said."
"But is it a provocation? One could agree with this idea if the provocation had been made by the opponents of the Russian-Turkish rapprochement. For example, the Americans. Instead, it was made by the representatives of the Turkish authorities.
"True, Stratfor is by no means friendly to either Russia or Turkey (Ankara has a lot of questions to ask it – mostly about its support for Fethullah Gülen, Recep Erdoğan's archenemy). However, the map and forecast were openly shown on a Turkish TV channel, and the argument about its 'private character' can only be believed by those who are not aware of Turkish realities.
"Several years ago, as part of his fight against dissidents, the Turkish president-sultan carried out a brutal purge of the press. Opposition journalists were shut down – some literally, some figuratively. All editorial offices of major media outlets (and TGRT Haber is a national channel) are under the control of the Turkish presidential administration and are afraid to even breathe without Erdoğan's permission. They would not have dared to release material that contradicted the interests of the ruling Justice and Development Party.
"The question is, why did they release it? Some political scientists argue that it was done for the sake of the rating. For the sake of making this material pleasing to the Turkish audience, which has long been infected with the ideas of Pan-Turkism and/or restoring the Ottoman Empire. They are the basis for these ideas' legitimacy within the country. 'This is a perfectly normal stance for Turkey. People openly and sincerely declare what their plans are and what kind of empire they intend to build,' says the well-known political analyst Yevgeny Satanovsky about the notorious map.
"And so it happens that, in the opinion of the architects of this ideology, all Turkic-speaking peoples, including those living in Russia, should fall into the sphere of influence of this empire.
"Pan-Turkism knows no exceptions, and the over-excited electorate of the Turkish president does not accept any. That is why Erdoğan even now does not make any compromises with Moscow, if these [compromises] require him to sacrifice his pan-Turkist ambitions. And we are not talking about the withdrawal of Turkish troops from the Syrian province of Idlib, but about things that are much more important for Russia.
"Thus, a few days ago, Alparslan Çelik was released from a Turkish prison. This is the same militant who claimed responsibility for the murder of Russian pilot Oleg Peshkov at the end of 2015. However, he was in a Turkish prison not for this, but only for illegal possession of weapons.
"It was important for Russia to get hold of this man and condemn him – however, the very condemnation of 'a patriot who fought in Syria for the restoration of Turkey's imperial greatness' would not have pleased the Turkish voters, so Çelik is free. Is it any wonder then if Ankara continues its policy of strengthening pro-Turkish positions in the Russian regions marked on the map?
"True, all this does not mean that we should have a conflict with Turkey, break off relations or try to hold it in check by ourselves (as the European countries would like, wishing to solve their problems with Erdoğan at Russia's expense). What we shouldn't do is allow it a free ride and let the loyalty of Russian regions to be 'switched' to Ankara. We should continue cooperation in many areas (nuclear energy, trade, defense) – but at the same time regularly clean up pro-Turkish organizations in Crimea, the Krasnodar Territory, and other regions of the Russian Federation, which the FSB has, in fact, been doing successfully in recent years."
 See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 9189, Armenian Scholar Yeghia Tashjian: Until When Will Russia And China Allow Turkey To Exert Its Influence In Central Asia? February 18, 2021.
 Vz.ru/world/2021/2/14/1084977.html, February 14, 2021.
 See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 9176, Disregarding Columnists' Advice And Fears, Russia Plays Hardball With EU Foreign Policy Chief Borrell, February 10, 2021.