Türkiye has a “special” and growing relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin despite mounting pressure on Ankara to help bolster Western sanctions against Moscow, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in an exclusive interview ahead of next week’s presidential election runoff, APA reports citing CNN.
“We are not at a point where we would impose sanctions on Russia like the West have done. We are not bound by the West’s sanctions,” Erdogan told CNN’s Becky Anderson. “We are a strong state and we have a positive relationship with Russia.”
“Russia and Türkiye need each other in every field possible,” he added.
Erdogan is the apparent frontrunner in the Turkish presidential race which heads to a runoff vote on May 28. He and his principal rival, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, have diverged on a number of foreign policy issues, including diplomacy with the West and Russia.
Kilicdaroglu has vowed to repair years of strained diplomacy with the West.
He has also said he would not seek to emulate Erdogan’s personality-driven relationship with Putin, and instead recalibrate Ankara’s relationship to Moscow to be “state-driven.”
But in the days leading up to the first round of the presidential race on May 14, Kilicdaroglu sharpened his tone on the Kremlin, accusing it of meddling in Türkiye’s election and threatening to rupture the relationship between the two countries.
“Dear Russian friends, you are behind the montages, conspiracies, deep fake content and tapes that were exposed in this country yesterday,” he said on Twitter.
“If you want the continuation of our friendship after May 15, get your hands off the Turkish state,” Kilicdaroglu said.