After the fanfare, the anticlimax. Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan quietly skipped town after his summit meeting with Vladimir Putin last week. There was not even an official statement about their discussions in Sochi.
The discreet departure was doubly odd. Erdogan is not one to miss an opportunity to show off his international standing, and this had been heralded as the most consequential meeting between the two men in years.
The province, on the border with Turkey, is home to 4 million people, and the Erdogan government fears a new wave of refugees fleeing the fighting. Turkey is already home to the world’s largest concentration of refugees — more than 3.7 million, according to the United Nations High Commission on Refugees. Growing Turkish resentment about the presence of so many foreigners is a political liability for Erdogan, whose approval ratings are already sagging from widespread dissatisfaction with the state of the economy.