Idlib: Can Erdoğan achieve anything in Moscow?

Erdoğan is due to meet Putin in Moscow today in a bid to find a solution to the Syria conflict. The Turkish president wants to secure a ceasefire in Idlib, where Turkey and Russia are on the brink of direct confrontation, with more than a million people trying to flee the region. Journalists see Erdoğan in a weakened position as he travels to Moscow.

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Kommersant (RU) /

Turkey has gambled away its backing

The Turkish president is facing Putin without international backing, Kommersant observes:

“As it turned out, not a single one of the international actors could be found who wants to pull the chestnuts out of the Syrian fire for Erdoğan. Nato limited itself to a friendly, non-binding declaration with the message being: 'Settle this among yourselves.' Europe has made it clear that it will not tolerate Turkish blackmail using the refugees. Erdoğan has managed to spoil his relations with all the leading players in the West and East in recent years - from Iran to Israel, from Saudi Arabia to India ... You can count his loyal friends (Erdoğan calls them brothers) on one hand, but this is not a force that stands a chance against Russia.” (RO) /

A meeting of losers

Commenting on G4 Media, Romanian historian Ionuț Cojocaru also believes that Erdoğan has little chance of influencing the situation to Putin's disadvantage:

“Will Turkey manage to oust Russia from the north of Syria? Will the Turkish president succeed in solving this equation, which he himself has made more complex? Probably not. The question is how long Turkish society will continue to silently accept the deaths in northern Syria. Turkey has taken on a role, it cannot lose much more, nor can the US or Russia. But the biggest loser of all is the EU, which is not up to the challenge of the refugee crisis.”

Radio Kommersant FM (RU) /

Ankara has enough leverage

According to Radio Kommersant FM Erdoğan has the upper hand:

“Ankara speaks from a position of strength. Turkey has drones, the migrants and the Russian 'Blue Streams' gas pipelines to Southern Europe, which it can block if necessary. How? Quite simply by no longer buying gas. For Moscow that would be extremely costly. And what Russia's answer might be is rather unclear.”

The Guardian (GB) /

Putin won't back down

The Guardian, on the other hand, says Erdoğan shouldn't count on Putin making concessions:

“Putin may be in no mood to back off. He badly wants an end to the Syrian war, where Russian forces have been engaged for nearly five years at considerable financial and human cost. He wants a victory for his client, Assad, in Idlib, the last rebel-held province, and for his own expansionist regional policies. He wants to declare a landmark strategic triumph at the west's and particularly the US's expense. Putin's price for letting Erdoğan off the hook may be a full or partial Turkish withdrawal from Idlib but also from other Turkish-occupied Syrian territory west of the Euphrates - and from the Kurdish-dominated north-east region.”

Daily Sabah (TR) /

The Russians misjudged Turkey

Ankara will defend Idlib at all costs, the pro-government paper Daily Sabah believes:

“With or without the help of the EU and the US, Turkey will not back off from its commitment to Idlib. At this point, Russia miscalculated Turkey's reaction. The point is that the Russians did not understand how Turkey weighed the balance between the human cost of defending the last bastion of Syrian Sunnis and the long-term impact of the ethnic and religious cleansing Assad and Iranian mullahs had committed in Syria.”