Putin Woos Turkey as Erdogan Spars With Trump

Putin Woos Turkey as Erdogan Spars With Trump

(Bloomberg) --

Vladimir Putin isn’t letting a good crisis go to waste. While Turkey’s lira troubles have gripped global markets worried about contagion risks, Russia spies an opportunity in the political frictions between Ankara and the U.S.

The idea of bringing Turkey tighter into Russia’s embrace isn’t as unrealistic as it was even a few years ago, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warning that spiraling conflict with the U.S. may prompt him to find new allies.

As President Donald Trump’s top national security aide warned Turkey’s U.S. envoy they have nothing to discuss until a detained American pastor is released, Russia’s foreign minister was holding talks in Ankara. Trump doubled tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum while Erdogan and Putin discussed economic cooperation.

Analysts say the Kremlin isn’t counting on Turkey quitting NATO, though it’s playing up divisions to undermine the military alliance while sealing weapons deals with Ankara. With the ruble under pressure amid threatened U.S. sanctions, Putin has few options for helping Turkey economically though.

Even so, a Turkish shift toward Moscow would hand Putin a major victory in his battle to curtail U.S. power and restore Russia’s global influence. The geopolitical implications would ripple round the world long after the lira crisis has faded.

Putin Woos Turkey as Erdogan Spars With Trump

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Putin Woos Turkey as Erdogan Spars With Trump

--With assistance from Karen Leigh, Stuart Biggs and Mark Williams.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.