While a number of decisions worth leaving critical imprints on regional situation were taken, as was being expected, in a highly significant meeting between Russia’s Putin and Turkey’s Erdogan held last week in Istanbul, it is equally, or perhaps more, important to analyse the attraction Turkey has re-discovered in re-allying itself with Russia. More than anything else, it is the sense of Russia’s diplomatic and military success in Syria. This sense of Russia’s success has been compounded by the US’ continued support of Kurdish militias. For Erdogan, therefore, Russia is a more reliable partner than the US has been, capable of preventing the creation of Kurdistan. And since an independent Kurdistan is not in the interest of both Turkey and Syria, a ready-made framework of co-operation does exist between them. Therefore, contrary to the Western media’s projections, Erdogan is not hardening his stance towards Damascus. In fact, contrary is happening and some recent indications clearly reinforce Erdogan’s softened up stance.
For instance, some of Russia’s recently announced decisions of considerable strategic significance have not invoked any opposition from Turkey. An outstanding of these is the decision to create a permanent naval base in Syria, which, by all indication underscores the fact that Russia would be expanding not only its military footprint but its military potential in the Middle East. The announcement, quite interestingly, came at a time when Putin was travelling to Turkey. That this decision did not create any tension in his meeting with Erdogan and that certain agreements were still signed and understanding over other issues was reached signifies the trajectory Russia-Turkey bi-lateral relations are taking.
All this unambiguously shows that Russia and Turkey, which were once on opposing sides of the conflict, have started to bridge the gaps between themselves as a means to manage, if not end all together, the conflict in Syria. While it appears difficult to see this bridging up of the gaps as a fundamental strategic realignment of Turkey (read: Turkey is still a NATO member) there is no denying the fact that their mutual relationship stands on more firm ground than it was a year ago and is likely to continue to grow stronger as the sense of “mutual dependence” dawns more clearly on both sides and as Turkey realizes that its alliance with the US has done it more harm than good.
The US and Russia could drive the world into a global war if the conflict in Syria is not resolved, Turkey has warned.
Tensions have become increasingly heightened between Washington and Moscow in recent weeks. Last week, the US and UK warned Russia and its ally the Syrian government that new economic sanctions could be imposed if the bombing of Syria's besieged Aleppo continues.
On Sunday, Russia condemned Washington for making “unprecedented” threats of cyber attacks following accusations by the Obama administration that Moscow had hacked computers belonging to American political organisations.