Ideas. Action. Results.

Putin-Erdogan Meeting Accelerates Rapprochement, But No Major Realignment of Relations

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Washington, D.C. – Today’s meeting between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg will accelerate a Turkish-Russian rapprochement, but will not lead to a major realignment in relations between the two countries, analysts with the Bipartisan Policy Center said.

“Comments from both leaders after their meeting focused on economics and side-stepped the Syrian issue. This suggests a return to the uneasy, but mutually beneficial, status quo that existed before Turkey downed a Russian plane last November,” Blaise Misztal, director of the national security program at BPC, said. “Erdogan specifically referenced returning relations to their pre-crisis level, a time in which trade ties flourished but differences such as on Syria policy were set aside.”

“Russia appears to expect that rapprochement on Syria would involve Turkey accepting Russia’s desired outcome. There is no evidence yet of Russia being willing to offer the kind of real concessions to Turkish-supported rebel groups in northern Syria that might help woo Ankara,” Nick Danforth, senior policy analyst at BPC, said. “Erdogan’s post-coup anger at the West is very real, but he undoubtedly maintains a healthy suspicion of Russian motives and ambitions as well.”

Historically, Russian-Turkish relations have only been close when Russia was at its weakest. The more resurgent and aggressive Russia becomes, the less Washington needs to worry about Turkish-Russian rapprochement.

Blaise Misztal and Nick Danforth are available for comment.