Putin and Erdogan Still Hate Each Other’s Guts and Are Doing the Silent-Treatment Thing

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Turkey Hosts The G20 World Leader's Summit
The faces of two people who clearly relish each other's company.Photo: Kommersant Photo/2015 Kommersant Photo

Russian president Vladimir Putin and Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan made plans to meet up in Moscow on December 15 during last month’s G-20 summit. This meeting was scheduled before Turkey shot down a Russian warplane that entered its airspace, however, and the silent-treatment diplomacy that followed.

A Kremlin spokesperson told reporters on Monday, “It won’t happen, it’s not planned.” 

Erdogan told France 24 two weeks ago that “We need to talk about what happened … but Putin has not returned my call.” Russia has demanded that Turkey apologize for the plane incident; Turkey has responded by basically saying, “No, thanks, we were just protecting our airspace.”

Although Putin has refused to meet with Erdogan, he has relished the opportunity to invent new ways to insult the country in statements. During his annual state of the nation speech, he said, “Allah decided to punish the ruling clique in Turkey by depriving them of reason and common sense. They will regret again and again what they’ve done.” Putin told reporters last month, “We — and not only we, I can assure you — have seen today’s leadership in Turkey pursuing, in its domestic policy, a quite deliberate course of Islamization for a number of years.” Putin has also accused Turkey, which was hit with sanctions after the plane incident, of being involved in the ISIS oil trade — something Turkey has said is completely false and is basically just “Soviet-style” propaganda. 

Putin has also threatened to do far more to punish Turkey. “If someone thinks they can commit war crimes, kill our people and get away with it,” he said a few weeks ago, “suffering nothing but a ban on tomato imports, as well as a few restrictions in construction or other industries, they’re delusional.”

On Sunday, a Russian warship fired warning shots at a Turkish fishing boat in the Aegean Sea. The Russian government said the shots were taken because the boat did not respond to flares and other warnings, and the vessels were about to collide. Turkey has not yet responded, but it seems safe to say they don’t plan on saying anything to expedite the end of this giant mess.