With the leaders of Russia and Turkey patching up their fractured relationship, what could this mean for the West?
In an incredibly fast turnaround, President Erdogan and Vladimir Putin have seemingly managed to put behind talk of war, after the Turkish downed a Russian SU-24 warplane last November.
But now they’re talking about restoring their close economic relations, with Putin himself saying that trade sanctions on Turkey would be phased out ‘step by step’.
It was Erdogan’s first foreign visit since the attempted military coup last month, and has since launched a purge of the armed forces.
In his visit to St Petersburg, Erdogan thanked Putin for calling him after the coup, adding that it ‘meant a lot psychologically’.
It seems Erdogan has every reason to thank Putin, as Iran’s official news agency reported that he authorised his intelligence services to warn Turkish security forces about the planned coup, just before it happened.
This tip-off led to Erdogan being able to escape capture or an assassination attempt.
This new found bond between the unpredictable leaders seemed complete when Erdogan said: “God willing, the Moscow-Ankara axis will again be a line of trust and friendship.”
What makes the prospect of this new friendship all the more terrifying is Turkey’s position is extremely important, both geographically and politically.
Not only is the country in NATO and helping fight Daesh in Syria, it also acts as a buffer for Europe from conflict in the Middle East and the flow of refugees.
And with Erdogan’s disdain for the West only intensifying recently, there are fears that this is playing right into Putin’s hands- especially as he chose Moscow as his first foreign visit since the coup.
Since the attempted overthrow last month, the Turkish president has been extremely critical of Europe and the U.S. for their lack of support.
Erdogan said: “The world took a stand when Charlie Hebdo was attacked. I wish world leaders had reacted the same to what happened in Turkey.”
He is also growing impatient with Obama and the U.S. to approve the extradition of cleric Fethullah Galen, who he blames for the coup plot which claimed the lives of at least 238 people.
Putin’s intervention in the Crimea and Syria show he is not afraid to capitalise on international tensions and this could prove to be yet another opportunity for Russia to strike fear into the West.