Putin and Erdogan in conversation about the Syria crisis: what to expect?
The presidents of Russia and Turkey have always had a complicated relationship. Putin and Erdogan are not exactly friends, but they do have many common interests.
The war in Syria is now putting that relationship under extra stress. Especially since 33 Turkish soldiers were recently killed in the Syrian province of Idlib – partly as a result of fire from Russian troops who support the Syrian government army. The situation in Idlib seems to escalate any moment.
And so Erdogan and Putin meet in Moscow today to talk. What is at stake, and what can we expect from their conversation?
The situation in Idlib shows that Putin and Erdogan have very conflicting interests in Syria. The Syrian army of Assad wants to get full control of Idlib. Erdogan wants to keep Assad away from the area, so that no more refugees come to Turkey. He therefore supports the rebels in Idlib who are fighting against Assad.
In the meantime, Russia supports Assad. Mainly to remain an important player in the region and on the world stage. But Russia is being put under pressure by both parties. What now?
Today’s main goal is to do everything in its power to prevent the situation in Idlib from getting out of hand. Russia doesn’t feel like it, he says. “If an armed attack were to take place from Russia, it would mean a conflict with a NATO country. Russia does not want to have all NATO countries against it.”
Turkey also does not want any escalation. Turkey shot down a Russian fighter plane in 2015 and then received huge sanctions from Russia, including the export of fruit and vegetables and tourism. That was a huge blow.
Billions in projects are currently being set up between Russia and Turkey. Such as a gas pipeline from Russia to Turkey and a nuclear power plant that Russia is going to build in Turkey.
It means that both presidents do not consider the province of Idlib worth putting their alliance at stake.