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Putin and Erdoğan vow to improve ties after tensions

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Sochi on September 29, 2021. Vladimir SMIRNOV / POOL / AFP

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, on Sunday pledged to improve ties during a call, both sides said, after tensions mounted over drones and NATO in recent weeks, Agence France-Presse reported.

Turkey, a NATO member since 1952, has angered Moscow by supplying combat drones to Ukraine that Russia fears could be used by Kiev in its conflict with separatists in two eastern regions.

Putin and Erdoğan “exchanged New Year’s greetings and summarized the main results of bilateral cooperation and confirmed the desire to further intensify the mutually beneficial partnership between Russia and Turkey,” the Kremlin said in a statement about the leaders’ phone call.

Erdoğan’s office said both sides “discussed steps to improve Turkish-Russian relations” and reiterated their desire to develop cooperation “in all fields.”

Last month, Putin criticized Kiev for deploying Turkish-made drones in its conflict with pro-Moscow separatists.

Ankara says it cannot be blamed for Ukraine’s use of Turkish drones, adding if a state buys Turkish weaponry, it is no longer a Turkish product but belongs to the country which buys it.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu urged Russia last week to drop “one-sided” demands and adopt a more constructive approach in its standoff with Western powers and NATO over Ukraine.

Russia wants NATO to provide Moscow with a binding security guarantee and withdraw its forces to positions they held before a wave of eastward expansion that began after the Soviet Union’s collapse.

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