Russian President Vladimir Putin will be hosting his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the resort city of Sochi on Wednesday, just a day after he met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Putin and Erdogan have met a number of times since their sudden rapprochement last year, but the issue of the Syrian civil war will continue to dominate their agenda for this previously unannounced visit. Erdogan was previously in Moscow in March.
“The leaders will exchange views on the entire range of Russian-Turkish relations, in particular in the context of the agreements reached at the sixth meeting of the Cooperation Council of the highest level that was held in Moscow on March 10. It is also planned to consider current regional and international problems, first of all those related to fighting against terrorism and the settlement of the Syrian crisis,” the Kremlin press service said in a statement carried by the Russian news agency TASS.
Russia and Turkey have in the past several months boosted their anti-terrorism campaign in Syria, with the first joint operation being carried out against Islamic State targets in the suburbs of the town of al-Bab in the Aleppo province in mid January.
Since then, the two countries have moved ever closer, boosting trade and geopolitical ties. In late January, Russia’s Lower House of Parliament, or State Duma, approved the ratification of an agreement on a Russian pipeline to deliver its natural gas to Turkey and European markets through the Black Sea.
The Turkish Stream Project, as the pipeline plan has come to be called, was put forward by Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2014 but delayed after a tense rift between Ankara and Moscow over the downing of a Russian SU-24 by Turkish fighters in 2015.
The Turkish Stream Project was revived in June 2016 when the two countries buried their differences.
While Syria will top their talks on Wednesday, Erdogan will likely urge Russia to lift all trade sanctions first imposed after the SU-24 downing.
“If we want to reach trade turnover of $100 billion, we need to immediately lift all these restrictions,” Erdogan said in Ankara in statements reported by TASS.