The Kremlin said on Friday that Russian President Vladimir Putin will travel to Turkey to discuss bilateral relations and regional issues with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The visit will reportedly take place later this month, Turkish press claims the date could be 12 February. While Putin and Erdogan summit and chat on the phone frequently, Putin’s calls to Ankara are rare. What does Putin want from Erdogan?
Turkish media and international outlets, including Reuters, have reported that Putin and Erdogan will meet in Turkey on February 12. Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Friday refused to confirm the date of the visit, but said they will announce it “in due time”, according to Rudaw.
Erdogan and Putin “regularly keep in touch, more often over the phone, and as a rule, they meet in person several times a year. Every such meeting is very busy in terms of the agenda,” he was cited by Russian state media as telling reporters during a press conference.
Several issues will be discussed in the meeting. “These will certainly include the relationship between Russia and Turkey and bilateral trade and economic cooperation,” the Kremlin spokesman said.
“Of course, [they] always discuss regional issues, and Ukraine, too, of course,” he added.
This will be Putin’s first visit to a member of NATO since the start of the Russia-Ukraine war two years ago. Turkey this month ratified Stockholm’s application to join the military alliance. Sweden and Finland ended their tradition of military neutrality and made bids to join NATO after Russia began its war with Ukraine.
Foreign policy expert Zeynep Gurcanli writing for newssite Ekonomim.com provides some background on the leading items of the agenda:
There is a high probability that Putin will want to disrupt the improving atmosphere on the Washington-Ankara line during his visit to Ankara on February 12, which will be leaked to the international press. Russia is a country as skilled as the United States in both diplomatic maneuvering and turning its trump cards into “ultimatums” when necessary.
During Putin’s visit, it can be expected that “carrots” such as cheap natural gas will emerge, as well as “sticks” such as the sale of the second batch of S-400s.
Of course, the situation of Idlib in the north-west of Syria, under the control of the HTS terrorist organization 8former al Nusra), is another controversial issue. The Moscow administration, together with Assad, is counting the days to end Turkey’s protection of the northern section of Idlib.
In case of renewed Syrian army attacks, or a Russian air bombardment campaign, new wave of migration from the region to Turkey is one of the factors that makes Ankara lose its sleep the most. In order to end this nightmare, Turkey even agreed to make peace with the Assad administration, which it had been trying to overthrow for years.
However, according to Russia’s representative in Syria, Alexander Lavrentyev, the Ankara-Damascus normalization talks collapsed because Turkey did not guarantee withdrawal from the Syrian territory it controls. The Syrian issue is becoming increasingly problematic for both Ankara and Moscow.
Ankara’s biggest trump card against Russia is that it did not participate in Western sanctions imposed on Moscow due to the Ukraine war. Complaints from companies doing business with this country have been increasing, regarding that Ankara has recently started to create new difficulties for Russia, especially through the banking system. Russia has found breathing room through Turkey, from tourism to the supply of some critical goods.
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