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Putin may meet Erdogan in Moscow next week as tensions soar

Tensions between Russia and Turkey have risen sharply [Getty]

Date of publication: 28 February, 2020

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Russian President Putin and Turkish President Erdogan may meet in Moscow next week, Putin’s spokesman said, as tensions between the countries spiked following the killing of Turkish soldiers in Syria

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan may meet in Moscow next week, the Kremlin said on Friday, after a major spike in tensions over Syria.

"A possibility of a meeting at the highest level in Moscow on March 5 or 6 is being worked out at the moment," Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies.

Erdogan last week said he would hold a summit with the leaders of Russia, France and Germany on March 5 to discuss the escalating violence in Idlib, Syria's last rebel-held area.

But the Kremlin did not confirm that such a multilateral summit would involve France and Germany in a four-way meeting, and instead indicated a tripartite summit between Turkey, Iran, and Russia could be planned.

Earlier on Friday, Putin and Erdogan held crisis telephone talks after 33 Turkish soldiers were killed by Syrian fire, triggering fears of a dangerous new escalation of tensions.

The attack by Russian-backed Syrian regime forces took place late Thursday in the northwestern province of Idlib, where President Bashar al-Assad is waging a bloody campaign to oust rebels from their last holdout.

Tensions between the two countries have flared in recent days, with regime ally Russia accusing rebel-backer Turkey of supporting "terrorists" and Ankara urging Moscow to stop the regime violating a ceasefire.

Ankara and Moscow have forged closer cooperation after overcoming a major rupture in 2015 following the downing of a Russian fighter jet by Turkey.

In September 2018, they agreed to create a "demilitarised zone" around Syria's Idlib region in a bid to avert a military assault on the rebel-held area. However, regime and Russian forces launched a new attack on the area in April 2019. Nearly 2,000 people have been killed since then and close to a million displaced.

In January, Putin travelled to Turkey to inaugurate a natural gas pipeline with Erdogan.


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