Turkish President Erdogan’s visit to Russia next week will see the two Great Powers take their strategic partnership to the next level in an increasingly multipolar and complex world. The Turkish leader will arrive in the Russian capital next Monday on 8 April for the upcoming session of the High-Level Russian-Turkish Cooperation Council, which is an important but nevertheless routine event but one which takes on a heightened significance in the current context. The military phase of the Syrian conflict is finally winding down, giving a new impetus to the Astana process in which those two countries and Iran play pivotal roles.
Furthermore, President Erdogan has threatened to launch another military intervention in the Arab Republic against pro-American Kurdish militias that he believes are linked to the terrorist-designated PKK, though he’ll probably need President Putin’s tacit approval – if not indirect coordination – in order to pull it off, just like many believe he received the last two times around during operations Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch. The military dimension of Russian-Turkish ties isn’t just limited to Syria, however, since the notional NATO member is also determined to go ahead with its planned purchase of S-400s despite public outrage from the US.
Moving beyond that, both Great Powers are also increasing their bilateral trade with one another as they seek to flesh out their relations and move them beyond the military and energy realms. About the second-mentioned pillar of their strategic partnership, the progressive completion of the game-changing TurkStream gas pipeline will see both of them renewing their centuries-old influence in the Balkans, albeit in a totally different form than before. Instead of competing with one another, Russia and Turkey are now working hand-in-hand with each other to compete with the US and EU, using energy as the gateway to forming and expanding strategic partnerships with the regional countries.
Altogether, this upcoming summit will therefore be hugely important for Russian-Turkish relations at this crucial juncture because it will provide their respective leaders with the opportunity to further coordinate their policies and decide where everything goes from here on out, especially in regards to resolving the Syrian conflict. Both Presidents are dedicated to ending the war, though they still have their differing views about how everything should conclude, though their visible closeness in all other spheres suggests that they’ll be able to come to a compromise in this respect too, especially considering how much is on the line.
(Andrew Korybko is a political analyst and radio host at Sputnik News in Moscow.)