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July 26, 2016

TURKISH RESET: Putin, Erdogan Mend Ties as Post-Coup Turkey Turns Toward Russia.

Russia “isn’t just our close and friendly neighbor, but also a strategic partner,” Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek, who announced the Aug. 9 visit, said at talks in Moscow with his Russian counterpart Arkady Dvorkovich on Tuesday. “Today, we are here to normalize the situation and our relations as soon as possible and at an accelerated pace since they were disrupted on November 24,” when Turkish fighter jets shot down a Russian warplane near the Syrian border, he said.

There’ll be no shortage of things to discuss at the summit between Putin and Erdogan, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call Tuesday as he confirmed the Aug. 9 meeting in St. Petersburg.

The attempt by elements of the military to oust Erdogan has turbo-charged efforts to restore ties between Turkey and Russia that were already under way after the crisis over the downing of the warplane. The rapprochement may even lead to a political realignment in the region.

A week or so ago I admitted I was getting “paranoid enough to wonder if we shouldn’t be looking for Vladimir Putin’s fingerprints” somewhere on the coup or post-coup purge. Today it seems that “paranoid enough” might not be paranoid enough.

There is also now a non-zero chance that Putin will accomplish what none of his Soviet predecessors could, and knock NATO’s southern tier out from under it.