Meeting between Putin and Erdogan at the MAKS-2019


Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin held talks in the Russian capital on Aug 27 to discuss recently escalated tensions in the Idlib province of Syria as a result of intensified military operations by the regime forces. The meeting lasted one hour and 20 minutes and was celebrated at Zhukovsky International Airport in Russia where the MAKS-2019, an annual Russian aviation and space fair, took place.

Erdogan is calling for an end to the Russian-backed Damascus offensive against rebels in Syria’s Idlib province.

“This meeting is a very significant one because Turkish-Russian relations [do] not seem to be as rosy at they were only a short while ago,” said Soli Ozel, international relations lecturer at Kadir Has University in Istanbul. “And this is a function of what is going on in Idlib. He [Erdogan] will want the [Damascus] offensive to stop. That will not happen. I don’t think Erdogan will get much. It’s going to be a tough meeting,” Ozel added.

Russia is concerned over the increased presence of jihadist terrorists in the enclave, although a Turkish-Russian deal brokered in September 2018 suggested the withdrawal of all terror elements from the demilitarized province.

On Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov strongly defended the current Idlib offensive, blaming Ankara for failing to rein in rebel forces under the Sochi deal. He said that “the Syrian armed forces as supported by us are not violating the [Sochi] agreement. Despite all measures, including the formation of Turkish military observation posts [in Idlib], the shelling [by rebels against Russian bases in Syria] within the Idlib zone, including, as we repeatedly stated, in front of Turkish observers, continued and somehow intensified.”

In a sign of possible growing internal discord within Turkey’s military over Idlib, newly appointed Maj.-Gen. Ahmet Ercan Corbaci, who was in charge of mechanized infantry forces in the  province, and his deputy, Brig. Gen. Ertugrul Saglam, resigned Sunday.

“They either don’t believe in the mission [in Idlib] or the management of the mission, or they are angry about something. This doesn’t suggest a solidly unified military corps,” said Ozel.

Analysts warn that Erdogan will struggle for a breakthrough with Moscow in easing the situation, given that Ankara and Moscow back rival sides in the Syrian conflict.

“What we are seeing is crisis management,” said Galip Dalay, a visiting scholar of international relations at Oxford University. “What they are doing is just delaying the crisis. They are coming up with cosmetic solutions.”

Washington’s support of the YPG in its war against Islamic State has poisoned relations with its NATO ally.

“Moscow would oppose any rapprochement between Ankara and Washington,” said Zaur Gasimov, a senior research fellow in the Russian studies department at the University of Bonn.





Source: VOA News

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