The Turkish PKK, known for its armed struggle for an independent Kurdistan, initially (1970s) described itself as communist, and more recently still rather radical as communalist. It is designated as a terrorist group by the USA, the UK, Japan, and others, but not by Russia or China. Rather, Vladimir Putin notes that the Kurdish organisations YPG and YPJ are instrumental in fighting Islamic State (but the UK is supporting those as well).

Apart from the pragmatic note that YPG and YPJ have had some success against Islamic State (that even most of those who list PKK as terrorist recognise as the worse evil), how is the relation between the various progressive Kurdish political and militant organisations on one hand, and Russia on the other hand? Considering its historically communist alignment, one might expect friendly ties between Russia and Kurdish groups. Are there such friendly ties?

  • Likely, any proof of such "friendliness" is top secret (and Wikileaks is [un]surprisingly uninterested in leaking Russian or Turkish secrets). Having said that, Turkey is a major long term strategic geopolitical opponent of Russia and therefore Russia would clearly have obvious benefit in being friendly with PKK.
    – user4012
    Commented Sep 30, 2015 at 14:16
  • Turkish and Russian media contradict each other on that matter. And there are no well-known facts either to prove or disprove this. One might believe in what he wants.
    – Matt
    Commented Sep 30, 2015 at 16:54
  • Have you some references for Russia suporting Kurdish groups? As far I know, Russia is suporting Asad, while Kurdish groups were alied with USA.
    – convert
    Commented Apr 28, 2022 at 19:10

1 Answer 1


This is an old question, but by now it is very clear that Russia is supporting the YPG. In February 2016 the Rojava administration opened a kind of diplomatic office in Moscow, their first anywhere. In March 2017 it was further announced that Russia will build another military base in Syria specifically to train and support the YPG in fighting ISIS.

There is a long history of Russian support for Kurdish nationalism, especially in Turkey. For more detail see Michael A. Reynolds' article "Vladimir Putin, Godfather of Kurdistan?". As Reynolds puts it:

The first thing observers need to understand is that today’s alliance between Russia and the PKK is hardly new or unusual. The Russian-Kurdish nexus has been a recurring feature of Middle Eastern geopolitics for more than two hundred years, since Catherine the Great commissioned the publication of a Kurdish grammar in 1787.

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