Sochi, Russia – Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu visits Russian Federation on 29 December 2020. Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu visited Russian Federation on 29 December 2020 for the 8th Meeting of the Joint Strategic Planning Group between Turkey and the Russian Federation.

During the meeting in Sochi, the two sides also had a comprehensive exchange of views on bilateral relations as well as on current regional and international developments. Following the meeting, Minister Cavusoglu and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov held a joint press conference.

Minister Cavusoglu stated that it was the Centenary of our diplomatic relations with the Russian Federation, that preparations for the Turkey- Russian Federation High Level Cooperation Council meeting were discussed, that we welcomed more than 2 million Russian tourists in Turkey despite the pandemic, and that the steps we had taken with the Russian Federation on regional issues had produced concrete results.

Following the meeting, the 2021-2022 Consultation Plan between the two Ministeries of Foreign Affairs were signed.

Russian foreign minister says Russia and Turkey will not be deterred by sanctions over acquiring the S-400 missile system.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said the military cooperation between his country and Turkey would not be deterred by the sanctions imposed by the United States on Turkey over its acquisition of a Russian missile defense system.

“Relations between Russia and Turkey are self-sustainable and self-sufficient, they don’t depend on someone’s aggressive and hostile actions and whims,” Lavrov said on Tuesday.

“They [their relations] are based on the national interests of each of our countries and on our determination to continue mutual cooperation and mutual benefit by searching for a balance of interests.”

The US earlier this month punished Turkey for buying Russia’s S-400 air defense system, imposing rare sanctions against a NATO ally, with officials in US saying Turkey’s purchase of the missile system constituted a threat to the security alliance.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the time assured Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu that the US sanctions were intended to prevent Russia from receiving substantial revenues from the sale.

On Tuesday, Cavusoglu visited Russia for talks with his counterpart Lavrov, who told reporters that “we have confirmed our mutual intention to develop military ties with Turkey”.

He added that President Vladimir Putin appreciated Turkey’s determination to “continue cooperation in this area despite continuing illegitimate pressure from US”.

Cavusoglu said the US sanctions against Turkey were “an act of aggression against our country’s sovereign rights,” adding that Turkey would not give in to pressure.

“We prefer to solve all issues including that of the S-400 through negotiations,” Cavusoglu said. “After introducing the sanctions, the US announced it favours dialogue. We’ve never been against dialogue.”

Turkey last year took delivery of the $2.5bn system, defying warnings that such military cooperation was incompatible with NATO and would let Russia improve its targeting of US stealth planes.

Cavusoglu also told a joint news conference with Lavrov that Turkey’s relations with Russia are not an alternative to its ties with NATO and the European Union.

The EU has also prepared punitive steps over Turkey’s dispute with members Greece and Southern Cyprus over the Mediterranean offshore rights.

Although Russia and Turkey are rivals in several conflicts including Libya and Syria, Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan seek to maintain good relations.

The two countries are jointly monitoring a Russian-mediated truce over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region after a six-week war between Armenia and Azerbaijan that claimed more than 6,000 lives.

Lavrov says Turkey’s membership in NATO no problem in relations with Russia. According to the Russian top diplomat, differences between countries are inevitable but they can reach a balance of interests if they are open for cooperation

Russia doesn’t mind Turkey’s membership in NATO and minor gaps on some foreign policy issues because the two country have no differences on principal matters, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.

“We have no principal differences with Turkey,” he told the online Rome MED Dialogues international conference. “I am convinced that relations between Russia and Turkey are an example of how two independent countries can work together to implement their policy. They bend to no one, they never advance any ultimatums, they yield to no external influences. So, Turkey’s membership in NATO is no obstacle for us.”

According to the Russian top diplomat, differences between countries are inevitable but they can reach a balance of interests if they are open for cooperation. “This is what happening in relations between Russia and Turkey that are based on the principles of good neighborhood and reckoning with each other’s interests. By today, our presidents have managed to elaborate a model of cooperation that irons out these contradictions,” he said.

He stressed that Russia and Turkey successfully cooperated in various areas and had promising plans for further development of bilateral cooperation. In his words, despite gaps in approaches, the two countries manage to consolidate their efforts to promote cessation of hostilities in various conflict zones. “As for Libya, yes, we have different approach with Turkey there. Turkey prefers to focus on its relations with the Tripoli-based administration. But look at the general picture. I think that Turkey’s, ours [Russia’s] and other parties’ participation promotes cooperation in the interests of cessation of hostilities in various regions, including Nagorno-Karabakh,” he explained.

The Russian top diplomat recalled that Russia had not shared Turkey’s position at the beginning of the latest round of hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh when Turkey did not rule out a military solution to the conflict. The situation however was resolved through a trilateral agreement between the Russian, Azerbaijani and Armenian leaders. “In all such cases, Russia and Turkey manage to find points of contact, ways to reach a synergy to consolidate our efforts. This is what is taking place in the case of Nagorno-Karabakh,” Lavrov stressed.

“Another good example is Syria where Russia, Turkey and Iran created the Astana format which has proved to be the best mechanism for settling the conflict in Syria. The Astana format has proved its worth on the backdrop of the United Nation’s inaction. And we hail Turkey’s participation in this format,” he added.