Post coup, is Turkey getting close to Russia at West's expense?

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Ankara, Aug 6: Even a few months ago when a Russian fighter jet was shot down by Turkish forces near the Syrian border, the relation between Ankara and Moscow were not at its best. But in August 2016, almost a month after a coup failed to dislodge the Recep Tayyip Erdogan regime, it looks a new equation is ready to take shape between Turkish president and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. [Pro-govt Turkish daily accuses US of having organised coup attempt; targets former US general]

Read more about Turkey coup attempt 2016 

On Tuesday (August 9), Erdogan will travel to Russia to visit Putin and the observers feel it could be a game-changing moment in international politics which will give the West some serious headache.


Sources in Turkey, however, said that Erdogan's visit to St Petersburg is not going to convey the message that Ankara is going to Russia at the expense of the West and they insist that it is only a building up on the rapproachement with Russia which had begun before the coup was attempted on July 15. [Turkey briefly closes Nato air base]

But that explanation is far from satisfactory.

The general feeling in Turkey has been an enraged one since the West criticised the Erdogan government's strong counter-coup measures but did not say much about the coup itself which left over 230 people killed. [Pics: US had no role to play in Turkey coup attempt: Prez Obama]

The Turkish government retaliated after the coup attempt ran out of steam by purging several thousands of followers of Fetullah Gulen, a cleric in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania in the US. It also blamed the US for backing the coup and sought extradition of the cleric from the US, which the latter refused to do.

A number of countries like Germany and Austria took on Turkey on strong terms and there were suggestions to throw Turkey out of the Nato and end the talks over the latter's accession to the European Union and these fractures were more than an opportunity for Russia to undermine the cohesiveness between the West and Nato to its own advantage.

Sinan Ulgen, a former Turkish diplomat and analyst at the Carnegie Europe think tank, said for Erdogan, his meeting with Putin is a chance to show the West that Ankara could have other strategic options to explore, the Reuters reported.

Putin will be just the second head of the state who Erdogan will meet post the failed coup, after Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev who visited Turkey on August 5. Sources in Ankara have questioned why no Western head of state has paid a visit to the country to show solidarity after the political adventure against Erdogan.

Russians, on the other hand, have also found a much-needed ally in Turkey.

"Both Russia and Turkey are outcasts as far as the West is concerned," Reuters quoted Andrey Kortunov, director general of the Russian International Affairs Council, a foreign policy think tank close to the country's foreign ministry, as saying.

It is not that differences between Ankara and Moscow have been completely buried. Apart from the friction caused by the downing of the Russian jet nine months ago, the two sides also disagree on the future of the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria and also South Caucacus but they will surely look to make those differences secondary in comparison to the greater strategic battle with the West.

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