Russia and Turkey have had a long, often tumultuous relationship, and some of their difficulties are not so distant. Their current relations are of particular significance in the context of the tense confrontation between the United States, the European Union and Russia over Ukraine.
Before Moscow invaded and annexed Crimea earlier this year, Russian-Turkish relations had been on a dramatic upswing, with two-way trade reaching some $32 billion in 2013 (mostly Turkish imports of Russian natural gas) and Russia becoming Turkey’s No. 2 trading partner, behind Germany. Turkey had also emerged as Russia’s No. 1 trade partner in services, according to Russian Central Bank statistics, and the leading destination for Russian tourists (some 4 million in 2013), although recent advertisements on Russian state television is encouraging them to go to Crimea instead. Two years ago, Russia and Turkey agreed on visa-free travel for their citizens, allowing stays of one and later two to three months. Meanwhile, the EU and Turkey have established a road map for visa-free travel, but have not finalized an agreement.