Turkey and Russia have overcome their problems, and currently, relations are better than ever, Russian envoy to Ankara Aleksei Erkhov said on Wednesday. Speaking to Anadolu Agency (AA), Erkhov said that the two countries coped well with the problems that occurred following the downing of a Russian fighter jet by Turkish air forces in 2015. "We brought our relations to a level that is even better than the period before the crisis," Erkhov said, indicating that bilateral relations are moving fast. Bilateral relations plummeted when a Russian jet breaching the Turkish border near Syria was shot down in November 2015, and Moscow imposed sanctions on various Turkish sectors in response.
However, ties have gradually recovered since July 2016 when President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan took steps to normalize ties with Moscow. Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin met seven times in 2017. Since then, the two countries have cooperated in many areas, one of which is Syria and the future of the country. Together with Iran, the two countries launched the Astana talks, the ninth of which is expected to be held next week. Regarding the lifting of Russia's visa requirement for Turkish citizens, Erkhov indicated that the process is continuing and they believe there will be a solution.
According to a written statement by the Kazakhstan Foreign Ministry, the talks will be attended by the three guarantor countries and representatives of the Syrian regime as well as opposition groups. The statement also said observer countries, the U.S. and Jordan, were invited to the meeting. Moreover, there is the S-400 missile defense systems deal between the two countries. Last December, Ankara announced that it had concluded an agreement with Moscow to purchase two S-400 missile systems for $2.5 billion by early 2020.
The S-400, which has been in the inventory of the Russian military since 2007, is the country's most advanced long-range, anti-aircraft missile system. It is capable of carrying three types of missiles and designed for high efficiency, can detect targets up to 600 kilometers away and eliminate threats such as stealth aircraft and ballistic missiles. Since Ankara seeks to build its own missile defense system, the deal involves technology and knowledge transfer. The S-400 system is the new generation of Russian missile defense systems, and so far Russia has only sold them to China and India. Last year, both China and India signed agreements for the procurement of four regiments of the Russian-made S-400s, and delivery is expected to begin in 2020.
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