The journey of relations between Ankara and Moscow… from tension to rapprochement to the stage of strategic alliance and common interests

Turkey and Russia have stepped up their cooperation after a serious diplomatic crisis by the end of 2015 as Ankara began to receive the Russian S400 system on Friday amid Washington’s resentment.

The two presidents, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin, who are interfering in the Syrian issue with Iran, are having tense relations with the Westerners.

On 24 November 2015, two F16 Turkish fighters dropped a Russian Su24 fighter.

Ankara confirmed that it was in Turkish airspace, while Moscow said it was shot down in Syrian airspace.

The incident angered Russia, which described the incident as a “stab in the back” and imposed sanctions on Turkey.

On June 27, 2016, Erdogan sent a letter to the Russian president expressing his “regret” over the killing of the Russian pilot in advance of his “condolences”.

The Kremlin spoke of Turkish “apologies”.

In 29, Putin ordered lifting sanctions on tourism and “normalizing” trade relations after the first telephone conversation with Erdogan since the crisis.

In July Putin was the first foreign leader to contact Erdogan after the failed coup in Turkey to express hope for a “quick return to stability”.

On 9 August 2016, Putin and Erdogan pledged a “tough” reconciliation during their first meeting in St. Petersburg.

“We’ve gone through a very difficult period in our relations and would like to overcome them”, Putin said.

But he warned that “difficult work is still ahead of us to stimulate economic and trade cooperation”.

On October 10, 2016, the two countries devoted their efforts to signing a major gas transport project on the occasion of Putin’s visit to Istanbul.

The project, dubbed Turkey Stream, will allow Russia to transport gas to Turkey and Europe under the Black Sea.

The project began in 2017.

Russia, Iran’s main ally of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad, while Turkey support the Syrian opposition, have strengthened their cooperation on the Syrian conflict.

In January 2017, the three countries launched Operation Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan without the United States, and invited the representatives of the regime and the opposition to the talks.

The process led to the establishment of “zones to reduce escalation” in Syria.

On March 10, 2017, Erdogan and Putin praised their total relations.

“We regard Turkey as our most important partner”, Putin said after a meeting in Moscow.

The two officials signed a cooperation plan until 2020 to give impetus to trade.

At the end of May Putin ordered the lifting of the majority of sanctions.

On September 12, 2017, Erdogan confirmed that Turkey had signed a contract with Russia for the purchase of the S400 anti-aircraft system despite the concern of Ankara’s partners in NATO.

“Vladimir Putin and I are determined on this subject”, he said.

On April 3, 2018, Putin and Erdogan gave the green light to build the first nuclear reactor in Turkey.

Akoyo station in Mersin province (south) will be built by the giant Rosatom Group.

The first reactor will enter the service in 2023.

In September 2018, Moscow and Ankara announced an agreement on a “demilitarized zone” in the Syrian province of Idlib, separating the territory under the control of opposition fighters and those controlled by government forces, thus avoiding a Syrian government attack on the northeastern province of Syria.

However, the Russian-backed the Syrian government has stepped up air raids on Idlib since the end of April 2019.

On May 18, Erdogan announced that Turkey and Russia would bring together S500 anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems after the controversy over the purchase of the S400 systems.

“Turkey is unlikely to back down from buying the S400”.

Washington opposes the deal, saying the Russian systems are not in line with the NATO arrangements which Ankara is a member of.

Washington, is keeping pursuing avoiding the Turkish-Russian approach, by any means necessary, even if they’ve to do the unthinkable.