St Petersburg visit could lead to closer ties with Russia as Turkish president criticises wests response to failed coup

Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdoan are due to meet face to face for the first time since the Turkish air force shot down a Russian plane last November. The incident led to a breakdown in relations between the countries and their leaders.

Erdoans day trip to St Petersburg on Tuesday will also be his first foreign visit since the failed takeover in Turkey last month and an ensuing, vicious crackdown that has strained relations between Ankara and its western allies. Putin may see an opportunity to rekindle the Russia-Turkey relationship after Erdoan last week accused the west, and the US in particular, of supporting terrorism in Turkey.

Erdoan also expressed fury at the west in comments published in French newspaper Le Monde on Monday. He compared international solidarity with France over the Charlie Hebdo attacks last year with the response to the takeover try in Turkey: I would have hoped that the leaders of the western world would have reacted in the same route and not have contented themselves with a few cases cliches.

He also threatened to cancel the migration agreement between Turkey and the EU, due to a European delay in implementing a visa waiver for Turkish citizens. The European Union is not behaving in a sincere manner with Turkey, he said.

The Russian president, who has a visceral dislike of street protests and takeovers, was one of the first foreign leaders to phone Erdoan and voice his support after the takeover try. He is unlikely to lecturing the Turkish president on the need for moderation in any reprisal.

Russian plane crashing in northern Syria after being shot down by Turkish fighter plane. Photograph: Reuters

It is a dramatic upturn in the relationship, which hit rock bottom after the shooting down of Russias Su-2 4 jet. One of the two pilots was killed, as was a marine who was part of the rescue mission. At the time, Erdoan said Turkey had cautioned Moscow on several occasions about incursions into Turkish air space by its jets. Moscow denied the plane ever crossed into Turkish airspace and Putin called the incident a stab in the back, carried out by the accomplices of terrorists.

In the hours and days after the incident, Erdoan repeatedly tried to contact Putin but was told the Russian leader would not speak to him until he apologised, which he pointedly failed to do. Russia imposed economic sanctions on Turkey and cut off all charter flights between the two countries, reducing virtually to zero the huge number of Russian tourists visiting the country. A number of Turkish citizens were rounded up and kicked out of Russia, while life became harder for Turkish business in the country.

In June, Erdoan penned a letter to Putin that stopped short of offering a full apology for the incident but did apologise to the families of the pilots. He also wrote that Turkey never had the desire or deliberate intention of shooting down the Russian Federations plane, according to a Kremlin statement. The Kremlin accepted Erdoans letter as an apology and soon after announced Tuesdays meeting.

I hope that this will lead to the further normalisation of the whole spectrum of our relations with Turkey, Putins foreign policy consultant Yuri Ushakov told RIA Novosti news agency. This is the first meeting after a long break in absolutely all contacts political, trade and others. So its important to have a full deliberation, see where we are, and look at possibilities for further cooperation.

Ushakov said the fact that Erdoan was building the effort to travel to St Petersburg despite the current internal situation in Turkey was evidence that the Turkish side was serious about the resumed part of good relations between the countries.

However, it is unlikely they will instantly return to their previous level, given the amount of angry rhetoric exchanged in recent months. Ushakov said the issue of compensation over the plane would be raised. Erdoan is also likely to ask Putin to temper Russian support for Kurds in Syria.

There were already signs of the thaw on Monday, as Turkish authorities unblocked the website of the Sputnik news agency, a Kremlin-funded news service. The agency had its website blocked by Turkeys communications regulator and its bureau chief was deported from Turkey in April.

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