Erdogan Gets His Putin Meeting, but It’s He Who’ll Have to Go to Russia
Erdogan's idea of making Putin come to him to talk Syria doesn't pan out
March 5 will indeed see a Putin-Erdogan summit, just not in the parameters Erdogan had in mind when he was announcing it to the world. Putin will not be flying in to Istanbul to summit with Erdogan backed by Merkel and Macron who had both called for the Syrian army to stop battling al-Qaeda on its territory (Macron had also bombed Syria with Trump). Instead, it will be Erdogan who will be walking to Putin, and going so on his own.
Given the serious situation in Syria the meeting is welcome and good news, perhaps some good can come from it, if only another temporary freeze. That said I’m not sure the Russian side places much hope in its success, they’re certainly not the driving force behind it, and they’re not acting as if they have much riding on it. Unlike the last time Putin isn’t even meeting Erdogan halfway in Sochi on the Black Sea riviera (lately Russia’s unofficial diplomatic capital).
But if should some deal nonetheless be reached its content will be influenced greatly by the situation on the ground. That is why the fighting has now only intensified. There is active, bitter fighting on two separate sectors of the front, with both a jihadi and government counter-strokes in motion, and with heavy involvement by the Turks. It’s probably some of the most intense fighting of the last two years of the war, and with the Turks serving as the artillery, air force and armored corps for the AQ-led Islamists certainly the most evenly-matched.