Turkish-Russian Rapprochement Turbocharged by Istanbul Coup Attemptby Dorian Jones
The recent failed military coup in Istanbul is pushing the Turkish government to prioritize a rapprochement with Russia, as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is due to meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg on August 9.
The meeting comes at an opportune time for Putin. Turkey is a key geopolitical player in the Black Sea region. But its Western orientation is now coming under stress. Ankara’s ties with nearly all of its western allies are now strained amid suspicions of complicity in the unsuccessful July 15 putsch and growing criticism by both the United States and European Union over Erdogan’s escalating crackdown in the coup-attempt aftermath.
Ever the opportunist, Putin seems content to set aside Turkish-Russian rancor. Relations between Ankara and Moscow were plunged into the deep freeze following Turkey’s downing of a Russian bomber operating from a Syrian airbase in November.
Even before the Istanbul coup attempt, relations had begun to thaw following Erdogan’s apology in June, but that process now seems set to accelerate. “There is a mutual understanding these deteriorated relations do not benefit both countries,” said Ay?e Sözen Usluer, a foreign policy aide to Erdogan. “I can see a political will to normalize these relations; I guess these relations will be back to what they were before the plane was shot down.”