Turkish-Ukrainian Economic Relations on Several Matters: Two Sides of the Black Sea


Ukraine is a country, which is located in Eastern Europe, with 41.5 million population and about 600,000 square km2 of land area, that has an economy based on agriculture, industry, trade, and so on. Ukraine has notable natural gas reserves and other minerals and has a developing aviation, space, defense, and IT sector. It is also known as one of the largest grain exporters in the World, due to its advantage to be located in the Black Sea for maritime traffic. In March 2022, after starting a war between Russia and Ukraine, the international area has changed and obtained around the Russia-Ukraine war, which has been getting built since Ukraine’s claim of independence, which led Ukraine to be a part of the Western “faction” which was not fully agreed due to contradiction of people that are living in west and east side of country until the war – and now east is also for having strong ties with west, Crimea region’s invasion, and resulted in Russia-Ukraine war. Due to being a neighbor throughout the Black Sea, Türkiye has been seen as a main facilitator of war, especially its contribution to the Black Sea Grain Initiative which was signed on 27th July 2023, to allow grain and fertilizer join to market by ship departure from determined ports. Hence, Türkiye and Ukraine have improved their relationship, for even with plans, such as repairing infrastructure after the war. Also, Türkiye’s unmanned aerial vehicle improvements were considered in the war by Ukraine. It is also known that Türkiye and Ukraine have tourism ties, which improve both countries’ tourism. These three main points, agriculture, military, and tourism can be subjects that obtain the main structure of the Türkiye-Ukraine relationships.

Firstly, Ukraine is known as one of the biggest exporters of grain in the World, with its significant advantage of fertile land, which is black soil, which is one of the most fertile soil types, and relatively low wages if compared to other countries that are in the agriculture sector. Ukraine has 42.8 million ha land of for agriculture and 71 % of the country’s total area, which means 32.5 million ha is available for agricultural activities. If it looks at Ukraine’s rank among global producers, it can be seen that Ukraine is ranked as 6th for corn, 7th for wheat, 4th for barley, and 1st for sunflower production. It means that Ukraine’s production is much more than its needs, agriculture export is Ukraine’s one of the income sources. In 2021, 83% of Ukrainian lands could make a profit. So, agriculture has been the fundamental object of the Ukranian economy. Absolutely, due to the war between Ukraine and Russia, agriculture has been significantly affected. Farmers lost their access to their agricultural tools and their lands. In addition, some of their tools and stockpiles are destroyed or harmed. Most importantly, logistics has been a problem since there is no longer a continuation of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, due to Russia’s demands and questions. Therefore, Türkiye and Ukraine’s relationship with agriculture is also important to Türkiye’s obtainment on their market and economy especially in the days of global inflation which affects countries after the Coronavirus pandemic and Russia-Ukraine way. Türkiye has been a conciliator of the Russia-Ukraine war, with making it based on Türkiye, Russia, and Ukraine’s location through the Black Sea. In order to maintain relationships and conciliation between Russia and Ukraine, the Turkish Minister of Agriculture and Forest Yumaklı stated that Türkiye is taking initiatives to restart the grain shipment without any kind of problems. 

Wheat producer countries and their minimum wage on average. *
Countries (ranked by wheat production)Production (1000 MT)Minimum wage (in USD, average)
European Union (in general)135,000427 to 2686
United States47,1977.25 per hour
Canada33,00012.20 per hour
Australia29,000563 per week

Secondly, military matters have been on the agenda of both countries, Türkiye and Ukraine. Ukraine’s aerial and defense sectors have improved, since there are lots of companies in defence, such as Motor Sich and Antonov. During the Soviet Union era, Ukraine was responsible for a significant part of defense production and research of technology. Ukraine decided to be a manufacturer country of NATO-standard equipment. As it is stated, Ukraine inherited a defense industry from the Soviet Union and has been improving it in order to maintain modern needs and as it is stated by President Zelensky, to be one of the main producers in the defence industry. Türkiye has established a joint point to Türkiye’s production of unmanned aerial vehicles and warplanes, which has made a need for engines. Motor Sich, a Ukrainian engine producer for planes and helicopters, was one of the engine producers that TAI (Turkish Aerospace Industries Inc) negotiated to the production of TAI Kaan. Also, it has been seen that Turkish defense company Baykar is planning to use the engine of a Ukrainian engine producer in the production of Baykar Bayraktar Kızılelma, which is Baykar’s unmanned combat aerial vehicle. It should be also noted that during the Russia-Ukraine War, Turkish unmanned aerial vehicles were used.

Finally, tourism can be considered as both Türkiye and Ukraine’s one of the most important collaboration areas. Türkiye and Ukraine’s cultural and political links have been strengthened by tourism as well. These two countries have grown their cooperation in several fields, including twin towns and sister city relationships, common cultural activities, and educational collaboration. Türkiye and Ukraine benefit from tourism in terms of peace and stability. Türkiye is preferred for all-inclusive hotel holidays and cultural trips. In 2019, more than 1.5 million Ukrainian tourists have been to Türkiye. In the same year, about 217,000 Turkish tourists have been to Ukraine, especially increased after the decision of citizens being able to use ID cards instead of passports to enter Ukraine. However, the recent war between Russia and Ukraine has been a serious threat to the Turkish tourism industry, as it has reduced the demand and bookings from both countries, which are generally visitors to Türkiye for holiday. During the war, the number of outcoming tourists from Ukraine to Türkiye has been decreased as can be expected. Also, the war affected Turkish people’s visit  to Ukraine, which has cities that tourists visit, such as Kyiv, Lviv, Odesa, and other cities in Ukraine, which have rich heritage and places to visit. So, it can be stated that the negative effects of the war on tourism will have existed until there is no longer a war between Ukraine and Russia.

In short, Ukraine is known as one of the world’s largest grain exporters, with the advantage of fertile land, black soil which is one of the most fertile soils, and relatively low wages compared to other countries. Ukraine has a significant field devoted to agriculture. If we consider Ukraine’s ranking among global agriculture producers, it can be seen that Ukraine is at the above of the ranking. In terms of military, it is also on the agenda of both countries, Türkiye and Ukraine. Ukraine’s aerospace and defense sectors have improved, with too many defense companies such as Motor Sich and Antonov. During the Soviet Union era, Ukraine was responsible for a significant share of defense production and technological research. Tourism is one of the most important subjects of Türkiye-Ukraine relations. Therefore, tourism can be considered one of the most important areas of cooperation between Türkiye and Ukraine. Cultural and political ties between Türkiye and Ukraine are also strengthened by tourism, including visitors of both countries, with support of advantages like ease of traveling and places to visit. The war between Ukraine and Russia has affected the relationship between Türkiye and Ukraine, which can be considered in a positive way, due to Türkiye’s connection with Ukraine and Russia at the same time. So, Türkiye may be key to the end of war with that advantage, it is another main point of the relationship between Türkiye and Ukraine. It is a thought that gets strong that both countries will make their relationship better day by day.

* This table can be changed in order to new updates. This data’s date is September 7th, 2023.

Photo: shutterstock.com


Foreign Agriculture Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. (April 2022). Ukraine Agricultural Production and Trade, Retrieved from: https://www.fas.usda.gov/sites/default/files/2022-04/Ukraine-Factsheet-April2022.pdf

BNE Intellinews. (August 12th, 2021). Farming was Ukraine’s most profitable business in 2020, outlook for this year is excellent too. Retrieved from: https://www.intellinews.com/farming-was-ukraine-s-most-profitable-business-in-2020-outlook-for-this-year-is-excellent-too-217979/

Ajten Berxolli, Natalia Potryvaieva, Olena Dovgal, Vitalii Kuzoma & Svitlana Pavliuk (2023) Innovation in Ukrainian agriculture to mitigate the impact of invasion, International Journal of Environmental Studies, 80:2, 307-313, DOI: 10.1080/00207233.2022.2160080

TÜRSAB. (May 2021). Ukrayna Turizm Pazar Raporu. Retrieved from: https://www.tursab.org.tr/assets/assets/uploads/ulke-raporlari/ukrayna-pazar-raporu-2021.pdf

Demirkıran, M., Hekim, M., Çetin Kılıç, N. & Eser, G. (2022). RUSYA- UKRAYNA SAVAŞININ TÜRKİYE’DEKİ TURİZM SEKTÖRÜNE ETKİLERİ: KRİZ YÖNETİMİ STRATEJİLERİ AÇISINDAN ANTALYA İLİ ÖRNEĞİ İNCELEMESİ. İktisat İşletme ve Uluslararası İlişkiler Dergisi, 1 (1), 68-87. Retrieved from https://dergipark.org.tr/tr/pub/jebi/issue/72242/1145761

Nikkei Asia. (September 4th, 2023). Japan and Turkey team up for Ukraine reconstruction. Retrieved from: https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/Ukraine-war/Japan-and-Turkey-team-up-for-Ukraine-reconstruction

Skorkin, K. (December 2nd, 2022). What Next for Ukraine’s Formerly Pro-Russian Regions? Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Retrieved fromhttps://carnegieendowment.org/politika/88542

Wage Indicator. (n.d.). Minimum Wages. Retrieved September 7, 2023, from https://wageindicator.org/salary/minimum-wage

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