Skip to main content

Why Putin delayed a visit to Turkey, again

The Russian president postponed a trip to Turkey for the third time since last year, officials cite Russian elections for the move
This handout photograph taken and released by the Turkish Presidency Press Office on September 4, 2023, shows Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) shaking hands after a press conference following a meeting in Sochi. (AFP)
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) shaking hands after a press conference following a meeting in Sochi (AFP)
By Ragip Soylu in Ankara

Russian President Vladimir Putin has postponed an official visit to Turkey scheduled for next week due to domestic concerns, such as the upcoming elections, two Turkish sources familiar with the visit told Middle East Eye. 

Several sources earlier this month suggested that Putin was scheduled to visit Ankara on 12 February, which would be his first trip to the country since 2020. 

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitri Peskov said on Thursday that there was no postponement since Moscow had not announced a definitive date for the visit. Separate sources told Ria Novosti, the Russian state news agency, that a trip might be in the pipeline for late April and May. 

“It appears that the Russian presidential elections caused a delay,” a source familiar with the trip told MEE.

The source said the bilateral relations between Ankara and Moscow were stable and there were no negative developments that would have an impact on the trip. 

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked


“This was pure Moscow, it doesn’t have anything to do with us,” the second source said. 

Russian officials said last week that the primary issue that the two presidents would discuss was the Ukraine war. But both countries also need to make progress on a Putin-proposed gas hub in western Turkey, hold further talks on establishing a second nuclear power plant near the Black Sea, and current peace negotiations between Azerbaijan and Armenia. 

The Russian presidential elections are scheduled for 15-17 March while Turkey is also holding local elections at the end of March.

Experts say Putin would need a strong standing in the elections as the Ukraine war is becoming unpopular at home. 

Turkey last year also began to increasingly comply with the western sanctions against Russia. A sudden drop was recorded in Turkish dual-used exports to Moscow in October and November.

Russian and Turkish media reported earlier this month that Turkish banks were increasingly avoiding making transactions with their Russian counterparts, worried over possible US sanctions. 

Putin twice planned to travel to Turkey last year but ended up postponing the trip. 

Sources at the time told MEE that security concerns might have played a role in delaying it. 

But since then Putin has made several visits to Central Asian and Gulf countries, such as the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.