Less than a year ago relations between Moscow and Ankara soured after a Turkish fighter jet shot down a Russian Su-24M bomber over the Turkish-Syrian border last November.
Harsh words and hostilities ensued. Vladimir Putin warned of serious consequences. He also said: “Today’s loss for us was like a stab in the back delivered by the accomplices of terrorists. I cannot qualify what happened today as anything else.”
But after a diplomatic crisis spanning several months, reconciliation came about on 27th June in the form of an written expression of “regret” from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
After that, Moscow lifted its sanctions on tourism, which by June 2016 had seen arrivals of Russian tourists to Turkey slump by 93% against June 2015.
Turkey faces West
The strain then started to show between Turkey and the West. In the aftermath of July’s failed Coup, the measures taken against suspected participants were seen as overly severe by the West while Erdogan bemoaned the lack of backing offered from the EU.
Putin, however, was the first to offer his support to The Turkish Leader.
Erdogan Resets Relations With Russia: On Tuesday, August 9, 2016, the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan… https://t.co/xz4y21EIys— burgerchrist (@burgerchrist) August 10, 2016
Sealing the deal
On 9th August, Erdogan made a state visit to St Petersburg to seal their rapproachment. Europe looked on, worried that the migrant agreement with Turkey was in jeopardy and concerned by the far-reaching purge Erdogan was orchestrating.
Emre Erçen, an expert on Russian-Turkey relations at Marmara University’s Department of Political Science and International Relations, said: “Putin was one of the first leaders to call Erdogan and he declared unconditional support for the Turkish government, the democratically elected government of Turkey, against the coup [attempt]”
Putting their money where their mouth is
After Erdogan thanked Putin for his support which he said “meant a lot psychologically”, the two committed to strengthening their economic cooperation to the tune of € 90 billion a year.
Russia has already commenced work on Turkey’s first Nuclear power station in Akkuyu in the south. Turkey is not rich in hydro-carbons and President Erdogan has said he hopes the plant, which is costing an estimated €18 billion, will eventually provide 10% of Turkey’s energy.
The two countries are also aiming to reaffirm their commitment to completing the Russian-Turkish gas pipeline “TurkStream” that could deliver 31.5 million cubic metres of Russian gas per year to Europe via the Black Sea.
A potential sticking point
However, a potential sticking point remains between Moscow and Ankara.
They remain at odds where Syria is concerned. The former is a key ally of Bashar al-Assad’s regime, while the latter supports the rebels who want to oust him from power.