Turkish colleague Tayyip Erdogan agreed on a ceasefire in the Syrian province of Idlib. Troops from both countries would together ensure security along an essential highway to the coast.
The relationship between the two was seriously soured after 56 Turkish soldiers died in Idlib.
Putin and Erdogan seemed to have become good buddies in recent years, but their opposing interests in Syria appeared to sour that sharply in past weeks.
Especially the bombing in which more than 30 Turkish soldiers were killed by the air force of the Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad has annoyed. In total, 56 Turks have been killed in the Syrian province of Idlib in the past month.
Erdogan is under pressure in his own country because of his interference in Syria and Putin tried to reduce that somewhat before today’s meeting in Moscow.
After their meeting, both leaders have reached an agreement. For example, a file should enter into Idlib at midnight. That is a boost for Turkish President Erdogan, who supports Syrian rebels who are being cornered by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s army, with the support of Russia.
Moreover, the Turkish troops would remain in Idlib and from 15 March together with Russian soldiers ensure safety along the strategically very important M4 motorway, which runs from the interior to the port of Latakia on the Mediterranean Sea.
There will be a safety corridor of 6 kilometres on each side of that road. That, in turn, is a gesture to Assad, which gives it essential access to the Syrian coastal area. Earlier, Putin had said that the Syrian troops did not know that they had bombed Turkish positions and that many Syrian soldiers were also killed in actions of Turkish revenge.
The northwestern province of Idlib is the last stronghold of the Syrian rebels. Assad wants to recapture that at all costs and receives support from Russian aircraft. However, Turkey supports several rebel groups in that region. In the context of a previous file, the Turks also have “observer posts” in that area and thus end up in the line of fire.