Finally, Russia’s Putin and Turkey’s Erdogan Set To Meet After Damaging Rift

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is traveling to the Russian city of St Petersburg for a face-to-face meeting with his counterpart, Vladimir Putin.

It will be the first time the two strongmen leaders have met since Turkish interceptors blasted a Russian warplane out of the skies over Syria in November. The incident, in which one of the air crew was killed as he parachuted from the aircraft, provoked a diplomatic firestorm, with a furious Kremlin vowing retribution. A second Russian serviceman was killed trying to rescue the other crew member on the ground.
Today’s loss for us was like a stab in back delivered by the accomplices of terrorists,” President Putin said on state television at the time.
It will have serious consequences for Russia’s relations with Turkey, ” he promised.


As well as blocking trade ties with Ankara, banning the import of food stuffs from Turkey, Putin also struck at the Turkish tourism industry, halting charter flights that carried millions of Russians to Turkish resorts. Visa-free travel to Russia was canceled for Turks, and Turkish workers were asked to leave, their visas revoked. The Kremlin’s retribution also got personal. Russian defense officials called an unprecedented news conference to reveal satellite and spy plane video of what they said were oil shipments to Turkey from ISIS controlled areas of Iraq and Syria.
Defense officials told journalists they believed the family of President Erdogan were intimately involved in the illegal trade and were profiting from it. President Erdogan strenuously denied the allegations. For months it seemed the bitterness between Putin and Erdogan would never heal: a battle of wills between two autocratic hardliners at odds over Syria.
But then, suddenly, something changed.
The Turkish leader unexpectedly moved to heal the rift with the Kremlin, writing a letter expressing “regret” to the family of the pilot who was killed in the shoot-down.
Turkey’s attempt to restore ties to Russia was driven by desperation,” said Fadi Hakura, Turkey specialist at the Chatham House think tank in London.
Turkey needed to restore economic and trade ties to Russia. Turkey needs Russian tourists to flow back to the Turkish resorts. Turkey also needs Russia to try to restore some of the lost influence it once had in Syria,” he told CNN.

Within days of the Erdogan letter, the foreign ministers of the two rivals were meeting in the Black Sea resort of Sochi and Putin was lifting sanctions, beginning what he said was the process of normalizing trade ties. Then the situation took a dramatic turn, with events in Turkey giving Erdogan’s rekindled ties with Putin unexpected significance.

A failed coup in Turkey gave way to a widespread crackdown by Erdogan on his opponents. Many Turks believed their allies in the West had failed to condemn to coup attempt in harshly enough, and were too critical of the mass arrests.
For Turkey, the détente with Russia was now an opportunity display its strategic options.
Turkish officials deny they are turning their backs on the West. But Erdogan’s cordial trip to Russia, a nation at odds with the West on a host of issues from Syria to Ukraine, may give Turkey’s allies pause for thought. And amid Ankara’s strained relations with the West, the Kremlin also senses an opportunity to win over a NATO member, said Alexander Shimulin, of the US-Canada Institute in Moscow.
To increase divisions within the Western community and in NATO is one of the purposes and one of the goals designed by Russia,” he added.

About the author




Leave a Comment