(Bloomberg) -- Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan will urge Vladimir Putin to help remove Syrian Kurdish fighters from areas near the Turkish border when the two presidents meet Wednesday for talks that will center on twin flashpoints in Syria’s war.
Ankara wants Russia to prevent attacks on Turkish soldiers by Kurdish militants operating in areas controlled by Moscow’s forces or the Syrian government it backs, according to a Turkish official who asked not to be identified discussing Erdogan’s priorities for the meeting in Sochi.
In particular, it’s demanding fighters of the Kurdish YPG leave the Syrian frontier towns of Manbij and Tal Rifat, as agreed jointly by Russia and Turkey in 2019, the official said.
Turkey Sends More Troops to Syria Ahead of Key Putin Meeting
Under the arrangement, Russian military police and Syrian border guards were to “facilitate the removal” of militia members and their weapons to at least 30 kilometers (19 miles) from the frontier with Turkey.
Erdogan’s meeting with Putin comes as Turkey is striving to block an assault on one of the Syrian war’s last front lines, fearing that an attempt by Russian-backed Syrian forces to seize the northwestern rebel bastion of Idlib would send more refugees streaming toward Turkey.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has accused Turkey of failing to meet its 2018 commitments to separate radical Islamists from other opponents of the Assad regime in Idlib.
Turkish officials are also keen to downplay any suggestion that the two leaders will focus on defense cooperation this week.
Erdogan Vows to Proceed With New S-400 Delivery in CBS Interview
Erdogan signaled his willingness to buy more Russian air-defense missiles during an interview with CBS News last week, spurring protests from U.S. senators who threatened new sanctions should Ankara proceed with those plans.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.