The summit was hotly anticipated as Russia and Turkey appeared at odds over the current situation in Syria’s Idlib province, and following Erdogan’s speech at last week’s UN General Assembly calling Crimea a part of Ukraine “whose annexation we do not recognize.”
However, the Turkish leader also added spice when he expressed frustration at talks with his NATO ally, US President Joe Biden, and announced that he would instead try to build closer ties with Russia.
Erdogan felt that the discussions in New York went badly. The fact Ankara is a key member of the US-led NATO military bloc, of course, means the summit could have geopolitical ramifications.
Its results, however, remain veiled in mystery as the two presidents did not address the media after their talks. Erdogan tweeted on Wednesday evening that he left Sochi “after a fruitful meeting” with Putin.
— Republic of Türkiye Directorate of Communications (@Communications) September 29, 2021
Meanwhile, the Kremlin posted a photo with the two presidents smiling and shaking hands, along with a transcript of their opening remarks ahead of the encounter.
According to the transcript, Putin was “delighted that our relations continue to develop and are progressing in a positive manner” and said Russia and Turkey were “cooperating quite successfully on the international stage, including on Syria” and Libya.
— President of Russia (@KremlinRussia_E) September 29, 2021
Putin pointed out that Russo-Turkish trade has recovered from the drop early on in the COVID-19 pandemic and “surged ahead” by 30% since, and thanked Erdogan on his “consistent stand” regarding the TurkStream gas pipeline.
According to the same transcript, Erdogan called Putin a “dear friend” and said he was happy to meet him in person.The Turkish president thanked Russia for assistance with forest fires over the summer – and expressed condolences to the families of five service members killed in the plane crash in August as part of that effort.
Erdogan also thanked Putin for the large number of Russian tourists that visited Turkey over the summer, acknowledging their role in bolstering the pandemic-stricken industry. Both leaders brought up Rosatom’s work in building the nuclear power plant at Akkuyu, on Turkey’s southern coast.
The Turkish leader did mention the UN General Assembly session, saying that “some people asked certain questions” during it, and “We provided the necessary answers, because some of our plans have been fulfilled in this respect and cannot be reversed.”
The Sochi summit was Putin’s first in-person meeting with another head of state after he went into self-isolation in mid-September, citing a Covid-19 outbreak among the Kremlin staff. At one point, the two leaders stepped outside the Bocharov Ruchey residence and chatted about their vaccination status and antibody levels.
Just a causal chat between Erdogan and Putin
Erdogan: What’s your antibody level?
Erdogan: It is too low
Putin: Our calculations are different. You should get Sputnik V to strengthen your immunity
Erdogan; I have received my third shot
— Ragıp Soylu (@ragipsoylu) September 29, 2021
Erdogan could be heard saying Putin’s antibody level was “too low” and his was “over 1,000,” prompting the Russian leader to say they measured things differently.
Putin urged Erdogan to get a booster shot of Sputnik V, the Russian-developed coronavirus vaccine, but the Turkish president demurred, saying he already received the third shot of a different brand instead.