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Turkey edges closer to Russia
August 28, 2019, 11:33 am

Despite their differences over Syria, Russia and Turkey are cementing closer ties built on a boost in trade and advanced weapons deals.

Putin and Erdogan discuss arms sales at the nternational Aviation and Space Salon (MAKS) aviation exhibition in Moscow, August 27, 2019 [PPIO]

During a joint press conference on the sidelines of the International Aviation and Space Salon (MAKS) aviation exhibition highlighting advanced Russian fighters in Moscow, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Vladimir Putin said they would expand their military ties.

“We have used the opportunity of Mr. Erdogan’s visit to discuss promising joint projects not only in aviation but also in other sectors of military-technical cooperation,” Putin said

Russia has said that it would help train Turkish pilots on its Su-30SM fighter jets and cooperate on the advanced Su-35 and SU-57 fighters.

At one point as the two presidents toured the MAKS exhibition grounds, Erdogan asked if the SU-57 could be sold to Turkey, to which Putin said yes.

Erdogan’s visit, and the highlighting of arms purchases, comes at a time of growing rifts between Turkey and its North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies, particularly the US.

Relations between Ankara and Washington have been strained since Turkey signed a deal to purchase S-400 advanced Russian anti-missile technology.

Ankara began receiving components of the S-400 system in July.

The US has tried to block the deal by pressuring Ankara with possible sanctions. There have been hints that Turkey could end up forfeiting purchase of Lockheed Martin F-35 advanced fighter jets. US officials had previously warned that the air defense system was not compatible with NATO weapons.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavusoglu, who accompanied Erdogan to Moscow, indicated that if Russia were to go ahead and sell his country the advanced Su-57 fighter jets these would serve as likely replacements for the F-35s which Ankara may never receive from Washington.

The two countries are also working toward settling trade transactions in their local currencies, as well as a $1 billion joint investment fund. Erdogan wants to significantly boost the volume of trade between the two.

“The trade turnover between our countries already exceeds $25 billion, but our task is to bring it to $100 billion,” Erdogan told Turkish media during his MAKS tour.

Meanwhile, Russia and Turkey are continuing work on the joint project, known as Turkstream, which is seen as a vital economic enterprise by Moscow because it would involving building a pipeline which will carry Russian gas straight to Europe.

Turkstream is expected to go online by December 2019.

The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies