Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan will meet in Moscow on Thursday for the next summit. As Bloomberg News reports, both leaders are going to try to patch up their partnership after the most cruel fight yet between Russia-backed Syrian army and Turkey.
Erdogan wants Putin to accept his plan to carve out a new de-escalation zone of control in Syria’s Idlib area to resettle millions of refugees. At the same time, Mr Putin may have to persuade Syrian President to make compromises during the summit because he can’t allow any casualties on our side or the Syrian army to suffer crushing losses, but Mr Erdogan’s demands can’t be accommodated entirely under current situation.
In addition, Ankara’s demand clashes with Moscow’s insistence that al-Assad must regain control over all of his country’s territory. Meanwhile, the Turkish leader is under growing domestic pressure to deliver success in Syria and avert a new wave of refugees fleeing into Turkey.
Putin wants to cement Russia’s influence in Syria by keeping Assad in power, but may be willing to make some concessions to Ankara’s desire for a buffer zone to protect Turkey’s border. The two leaders have to find a compromise like they have done many times before.
Watching nervously on the sidelines are European Union leaders alarmed by Erdogan’s threat to allow millions of refugees to cross its border, unleashing a new migrant crisis for the bloc that’s already reeling from populist pressures over the issue. So far, the U.S. and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization have been cool to Erdogan’s appeal for military support from Turkey’s allies.
Both Moscow and Ankara have been careful to avoid direct conflict even as the violence has spiked in recent days.
Erdogan on Sunday said Turkey wouldn’t stand in the way of Syrians seeking to enter the EU. While only a few thousand have sought to cross so far, tensions are mounting at the border with Greece.
“I understand the Turkish government and President Erdogan that he expects more from Europe,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters Monday in Berlin. “However, I find it unacceptable that President Erdogan and his government is now not expressing this dissatisfaction to us, the EU, but taking it out on the backs of the refugees. That’s the wrong way.”
As the political observers believe, there will be violations. With continued tensions inevitable, Russia and Turkey will do everything to avoid a direct armed conflict because that’s in neither of their interests.