(PresidentialWire.com)- In mid-September, Russian President Vladimir Putin went into self-isolation after several of his close staff tested positive for COVID-19. While the fully-vaccinated Putin tested negative for the virus, it was still decided that he remain in quarantine for a couple of weeks as a precaution.
And this past week, Putin ended his isolation and had an in-person meeting with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan at the Black Sea resort of Sochi on Wednesday.
Syria was the primary topic of discussion for the two leaders.
Russia is the primary ally of the Syrian government led by President Bashar al Assad. Turkey meanwhile has baked the groups fighting to unseat Assad. However, Russian and Turkish troops have cooperated in Idlib, the final holdout of Syrian rebel forces, and in seeking a political solution to the country’s ongoing conflict.
In their Sochi meeting, Erdogan told Putin that peace in Syria depends on good relations between Turkey and Russia.
This round of talks between the two leaders come amid an increase in airstrikes on Turkish-backed opposition fighters in northern Syria, especially in the province of Idlib.
Last year, Turkey and Russia reached a cease-fire agreement that halted a three-month Syrian offensive in Idlib that resulted in rare direct fighting between Turkish and Syrian troops. That Russian-backed offensive by Syrian troops killed hundreds of civilians and displaced nearly a million people in Idlib province.
Turkey’s primary concern is that an escalation of violence in northern Syria will result in a new influx of Syrian refugees surging across its border. As it is, Turkey already hosts some 3.7 million Syrian refugees.
For its part, Russia has accused Turkey of failing to take measures to push out radical groups from northern Syria.
Prior to his quarantine, President Putin hosted President Assad in Moscow, and harshly criticized the presence of both Turkish and US forces in northern Syria, calling their presence a flagrant violation of international law.
According to Russia’s state news agency Tass, Wednesday’s talks between Putin and Erdogan lasted for about three hours. The two leaders made no statements after the talks, but Erdogan said on social media that he left Sochi after holding a “productive” meeting with his Russian counterpart.