Putin Mends Fences In Istanbul
Putin Explains Syria Policy Dangles New Reactor

While the Syrian crisis has strained relations between Russia and Turkey, neither side can forego the trade relations.

Amiel Ungar,

Putin with Erdogan
Putin with Erdogan

Showing few signs of the apparent sports injury that had recently hobbled his performance, Russian President Vladimir Putin paid a one-day visit to Turkey to meet with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul.

There have been tensions between the two countries over the Syrian issue .Erdogan has called Russia the key to the situation. because it wields its veto at the Security Council to block any resolutions that would hasten the departure of the Assad regime. The Russians are worried about the deployment of Patriot missiles on the Turkish-Syrian border and bristled when the Turks forced down a Russian plane over their territory that was suspected of ferrying arms to the Damascus regime.

Putin defended his country's role in the Syrian crisis, claiming that Russia was not Assad's protector but warned that  it was counterproductive to support one side in a conflict because that would not facilitate a solution.

He warned of a repetition of what occurred with Libya following Western intervention: "Let's recall how active the Western community was in support of the Libyan rebels. Who could have predicted back then that the same people who had been supported by the West would go as far as the tragedy of the murder of the U.S. ambassador?" It was necessary, he said, to avoid a repetition of such mistakes.

While he understood Turkish sensitivity to shelling from Syria, the deployment of Patriot missiles would not enhance Turkish security but would only make the area more volatile. Putin reminded his hosts of the saying that if a gun is present at the start of the play, it would eventually be fired.

The two countries are, however, very important trading partners and bilateral trade is expected to reach $35 billion this year. The two leaders seek to triple that amount to 100 billion per annum.

Turkey is very dependent on supplies of Russian gas, particularly during harsh winters. As the market for gas becomes more highly competitive with Russia's mammoth Gazprom company shedding profits, Russia would like to keep the Turks happy.

Russia also supplies Turkey with its first nuclear reactor and the Russian visitor claimed that Russia was ready to offer Turkey another reactor which would help supply jobs in Turkey.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu claimed that “No one should take serious a scenario that Turkey and Russia will experience tension over Syria”, further asserting that “At the point where we cannot overcome [such tensions] we come to a point where Turkish-Russian relations are more important than all these fluctuations.”