Russia, Turkey in military tie-up

BBC | Published: 09:10, Oct 11,2016 | Updated: 10:33, Oct 11,2016

 
 
Russia-Syria

Friends again after ties cooled when Turkey shot down a Russian aircraft.-- Reuters photo

The Russian and Turkish leaders have agreed to intensify military and intelligence contacts after a meeting in Istanbul.

President Vladimir Putin also said he and Recep Tayyip Erdogan had agreed on the need for aid to get to the northern Syrian city of Aleppo.

The two countries have signed a deal to construct two pipelines to send Russian gas under the Black Sea to Turkey.

Ties were strained after Turkey downed a Russian military jet last year.

But speaking at a joint news conference with Putin, Erdogan said he was confident that the normalisation of relations would take place rapidly.

Unlike Russia, Turkey is a member of Nato, but both countries currently have uneasy relations with the West and are also facing economic challenges.

Despite the deal, differences remain between the countries.

While Russia supports Syria's president Bashar al-Assad, Turkey has called for him to be ousted and has offered support to forces fighting Syrian government troops.

On Saturday, Russia vetoed a French-drafted UN resolution calling for an end to air strikes and military flights over Aleppo.

This is a developing alliance defined as much by what Turkey and Russia oppose as by what unites them.

Both feel isolated. Both have taken a decidedly authoritarian turn in their politics. Both have significant tensions with Washington. And both have strategic stakes in Syria with Moscow and Ankara well aware of the need to deal with the other if these interests are to be protected.

It's something of a rapid reversal though. Less than a year ago Turkey shot down a Russian warplane and relations went into the freezer. But self-interest, notably Turkey's ‘post-coup attempt’ resentment at Washington and the shifting balance of military advantage in Syria, gives this unlikely pairing a certain logic.

Turkey, though, remains a significant player in the Atlantic Alliance - more so since it sits on Nato's strategic eastern flank. So how close military and intelligence ties can really be between Ankara and Moscow is an interesting question.

Earlier on Monday, the Russian and Turkish energy ministers signed a deal for the TurkStream gas pipeline project at the World Energy Congress in Istanbul.

One pipeline will be for Turkish domestic consumption, the other will supply southeastern Europe, bypassing Ukraine.

TurkStream replaces a previous project, South Stream, that was to have been built in co-operation with EU countries but was later scrapped. TurkStream had been announced by President Putin in 2014.

Earlier Putin told the gathering he supported moves by the oil producers' group Opec to cap production.

Russia and the US are the biggest oil producers outside the group, which will attempt to adopt quotas in November.

 

 

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