SOCHI, October 22. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan are currently holding talks in Sochi, which have lasted for five hours so far. About 140 reporters are expecting a joint press conference between both leaders.
In the run-up to the meeting, Putin stressed the importance of talks with Erdogan in the context of a difficult situation in Syria. Putin voiced hope that "the level of Russian-Turkish ties that has been achieved now will play its role in ironing out all challenging issues facing the region today." The Russian leader also voiced hope that this would give answers to all questions, both in the interests of Turkey, Russia, and all regional states.
For his part, Erdogan stressed that the meeting in Sochi is to help facilitate peace.
Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters earlier on Tuesday that "Russia would like to discuss the situation in northeastern Syria in order to better understand current developments, get updated on Turkey’s plans and weigh them against plans to advance the political settlement process." "There are many issues, this will be difficult talks, that’s obvious," Peskov said.
On Monday, Russian Presidential Aide on Foreign Affairs Yuri Ushakov pointed out that it would be the eighth Putin-Erdogan meeting in 2019. According to him, the parties plan to hash over the developments in northern Syria, focusing on Turkey’s military operation in the region.
Turkish operation in Syria
On October 9, Turkey launched a military incursion into northern Syria, codenaming it Operation Peace Spring, with the Turkish Armed Forces and the Ankara-backed Free Syrian Army carrying it out. Erdogan’s military campaign kicked off with airstrikes on the positions of the previously US-backed Kurdish units. The Erdogan government claimed that its goal is to clear the border area of what it calls ‘terrorists’ (Turkey’s broad label of the Kurdish forces) and establish a 30 km-long buffer zone in Syria’s north, where over 3 million Syrian refugees in Turkey would resettle. Ankara’s incursion into Syria has triggered an outcry in the region and across the world. The Syrian SANA news agency branded the operation as an act of aggression, while the international community condemned Erdogan’s military operation.
On October 17, the United States, represented by Vice President Mike Pence, reached a deal with Erdogan to pause Operation Peace Spring. Turkey consented to a 120-hour ceasefire so that Kurdish units making up the coalition of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) could leave the areas of the border security zone that Ankara is attempting to create.