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Russia and Turkey's Rapprochement

Don’t Expect an Equal Partnership

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, then Turkey's prime minister, in Istanbul, December 2012. Osman Orsal / REUTERS

Turkey's normalization of ties with Russia in late June was a rare bit of good news for the country. Under the pressure of a wave of terrorist attacks by Kurdish guerrillas and the self-proclaimed Islamic State, or ISIS; a massive influx of Syrian refugees; mounting economic problems compounded by Russian sanctions; and growing friction with the European Union and the United States, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan seems to have decided that his country could no longer afford a cold war with Moscow.

By apologizing for Turkey's downing of a Russian warplane in November 2015, Erdogan paved the way for the resumption of economic ties and increased security cooperation between the two countries. The apology, however, will not diminish Russia's growing influence in Turkey's backyard. More than the shootdown, that broader geopolitical shift—which has seen Russia grow more powerful in the Black Sea region, the Caucasus, and the wider Middle

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