The talks between the Presidents of the Russia and Turkey, Vladimir Putin and Tayyip Erdogan, have been going on for more then five hours, at first the leaders talked face-to-face, then the delegation members joined them.
The main topic of the talks between the leaders of the two countries concerned the aggravation of the situation in Syrian Idlib. The meeting between Putin and Erdogan in the Kremlin began at 14.06 Moscow time. Before the start of negotiations, the President of Russia stated the need to “talk” the current situation with his Turkish counterpart so that nothing like this would happen again and the Russian-Turkish relations, which the parties hold dear, would not be destroyed. Erdogan expressed confidence that the outcome of the negotiations will ease the situation in Syrian Idlib.
Escalation of the situation in Idlib
The situation in Idlib escalated after the terrorists of the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham group (banned in Russia) launched a large-scale attack on the positions of the Syrian government forces on February 27. The Syrian army returned fire. According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, the Turkish military, who should not have been there, was also shelled.
As a result, 36 Turkish soldiers died, more than 30 people were injured. Immediately after receiving information about the injured Turkish military, the Russian side took measures for a complete ceasefire by the Syrian troops, and a safe evacuation of the dead and wounded to Turkey was ensured. The Russian Defense Ministry emphasized that Russian aviation was not used in this area.
Earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Turkey was unable to fulfill several key commitments to solve the problems around Syrian Idlib. In particular, Turkey did not dissociate the armed opposition, which is ready for dialogue with the government in the framework of the political process, from terrorists. In turn, the vice-president of Turkey Fuat Oktay made a statement that the country had fulfilled its obligations under Idlib.
In accordance with the agreement reached in May 2017 at the talks in Astana (now Nur-Sultan) by representatives of Russia, Iran and Turkey, four de-escalation zones were created in Syria. The territory of three of them in 2018 came under the control of Damascus. The fourth zone, located in the province of Idlib and parts of the neighboring provinces of Latakia, Hama and Aleppo, is still not subject to the government of the republic. Moreover, most of it was captured by terrorists from the Jebhat al-Nusra group * banned in Russia. In September 2018, Russia and Turkey agreed in Sochi to create a demilitarized zone in Idlib, where there are more than a dozen different units.