Erdoğan and Putin discuss COVID-19 vaccine, developing bilateral ties

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin held a phone call on Thursday to discuss cooperation over the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The leaders discussed possible deliveries of Russian vaccines to Turkey and possible production of the vaccines on Turkish territory,” Russian state-run TASS news agency reported, citing the Kremlin press service.

The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) recently announced that it had signed a contract with a Turkish firm for the production of the Russian developed Sputnik V vaccine in Turkey.

And on Jan.27, Turkish pharmaceutical company VisCoran said it would start producing Sputnik V once the vaccine was approved by the Turkish authorities.

The two leaders also exchanged their commitment to enhancing bilateral ties and the prospect for mutual benefits in several areas, according to TASS.

“The implementation of joint projects in the energy sphere is considered among the priorities,” the news agency said.

Russia is one of the top three exporting countries to Turkey, including billions of dollars of natural gas each year. Russian companies are also leading construction of a nuclear power plant in the south of the country.

The two countries have similarly developed closer military ties in recent years. Turkey agreed to purchase the Russian-made S-400 air defence missiles at a cost of more than $2 billion in 2017, sparking a row with the United States.

The Russian and Turkish militaries are also cooperating in Syria, and jointly supervising a ceasefire agreement between Azerbaijan and Armenia in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh in the Caucasus.