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Putin, Erdogan meet face to face, but don't see eye to eye

The recent meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Azerbaijan appears to reflect a mutual irritation between the two parties.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin (L) shakes hands with Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan during their meeting in Baku, Azerbaijan, June 13, 2015.  REUTERS/Alexei Druzhinin/RIA Novosti/Kremlin ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. - RTX1GBHM
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While observers often focus on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s foreign policy successes — such as Moscow’s largely bloodless seizure of the Crimean Peninsula and its improving position in the Middle East — the Kremlin leader makes his fair share of mistakes. Some of them can even be quite costly, like the overconfidence in eastern Ukraine (following a relatively easy victory in Crimea) that has trapped Putin in a complex quagmire. Others look significant but might be correctable, such as Putin’s apparently casual attitude toward an important strategic opportunity in Russia’s relations with Turkey.

Broadly speaking, Russo-Turkish relations have improved significantly in recent years as trade has expanded. At the same time, Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have managed to compartmentalize differences over Syria and some other issues. Long-standing tensions in Turkey’s on-again off-again contacts with the European Union and its frequent differences with Washington haven’t hurt either.

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