Mar 05 2018

Erdoğan, Putin can’t be considered friends – analysis

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan may enjoy solid relations, but it’s a stretch to call them friends, Lawfare said in an editorial.

While Russia and Turkey have built a solid base for their relations on economic considerations -- Turkey exports a significant amount of goods and services to Russia, while Moscow supplies Ankara with much of its natural gas -- there are too many unknowns ahead to predict how close the two countries will get.

The uncertainty about the future course of Russian-Turkish ties is centred around Syria. There are several unknown factors, such as whether Russia will remain silent as Erdoğan conducts a protracted military operation there, or what action Russia might take should Turkey leave forces in Syria’s northwest despite objections from President Bashar al Assad.

Should geopolitical objectives diverge, Moscow could retaliate with economic sanctions against Ankara, as it did when the Turkish air force shot down a Russian jet over the Turkey-Syrian border in 2015.

And with a recent U.S. outreach to Turkey, the question is whether Ankara’s calculations about the relationship with Moscow will now change, Lawfare wrote.

Erdoğan and Putin are currently engaged in a tactical, short-term relationship. Anything further will depend on Syria and whether the two sides can guarantee some stability and de-escalation together, Lawfare said.