Putin and Erdogan Discuss Syria, Region, S-400

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan talks with the Russian President Vladimir Putin, Sochi, Russian Federation - 13 Nov 2017 (Photo by PAVEL GOLOVKIN/POOL/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

Ties between Russia and Turkey are fully restored, Russian President Vladimir Putin said as he met with Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the southern city of Sochi. The relationship between two countries was strained, after the downing of a Russian military jet over Turkey in 2005.

The meeting of two presidents lasted for more than four hours and Putin and Erdogan mostly talked about the situation on the ground in Syria. Putin said Russia’s work with Turkey and Iran was producing concrete results in that country and creating conditions for a dialogue there.

“The level of violence has definitely been reduced, favorable conditions are being created for the progression of an inter-Syrian dialogue,” he added, according to Reuters.

Putin and Erdogan: Political solution for Syria

Putin and Erdogan agreed that the Astana Agreement contributed to the solution of the crisis. The two presidents also agree that they have a common enemy in the Islamic State. The group has been withdrawing in the recent months in the region, losing the last stronghold in Syria last week.

“We agreed that the grounds to focus on a political solution in Syria have been formed,” he said.

The Turkish President was, however, critical of the role global superpowers have in the neighboring country.

“I am having trouble understanding these comments,“ Erdogan told reporters before flying to Russia for talks with Putin. ”If a military solution is out of the question, then those who say this should pull their troops out. The United States said it would completely leave Iraq, but it didn‘t. The world is not stupid, some realities are being told differently and practiced differently.”

Erdogan said both Moscow, which backs President Bashar al-Assad, and Washington, which armed Syrian YPG Kurdish forces Ankara sees as allied to separatists fighting in southeastern Turkey, had set up bases. The United States has 13 bases, some made with the assistance of Kurdish forces, while the Russian military has five bases, Erdogan claims.

Neither leader went into more specific detail. Asked if the two discussed Erdogan’s earlier comments, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the talks were about more complex issues which could not be made public.

Defense industry joint steps

Erdogan also concluded that Turkey considers as very important the joint steps two countries will take in the defense industries. Many see this as a nod to the S-400 missile system purchase by Ankara. The move isn’t viewed favorably by NATO, where Turkey is a member.

“Erdogan and his country are interested in the revival of those relationships partly because Turkey has turned out to be pretty much isolated. That’s why, for example, it decided to buy the S-400 advanced missile defense system, because they were prevented from buying Patriot and other similar systems when they wanted to. So the purchase was done out of spite, and we saw the first transfer of money between the two countries,” claims Victor Nadein-Raevsky, expert for the relationship between Russia and Turkey, for Euronews.

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