Russian Foreign Ministry said on Oct. 22 that Turkey’s incursion into northern Syria was violating Syria’s territorial integrity, as the meeting between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin started in Sochi.
Deputy Foreign Minister Oleg Syromolotov said that only the Russian and Iranian militaries had the legal right to be in Syria, adding that he expected the Putin-Erdoğan meeting to clarify who controlled oil-rich parts of northeast Syria.
Talking to reporters ahead of the private meeting, Putin said that “there are various dynamics concerning the situation in the region, we are aware of that.”
“I believe that these talks and consultations will be fruitful,” Putin told journalists on Oct. 22, as he added that the level of relations between Moscow and Ankara will help solve the problems in the region.
The leaders are set to discuss the situation in Syria in their meeting, following two weeks of fast-moving events.
Turkey launched its operation in northern Syria, dubbed Operation Peace Spring, on Oct. 9 in order to clear the border from militants of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and set up a “safe zone.”
The operation was kicked off following White House announcement regarding the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the area.
Upon Washington’s sudden decision, YPG-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) made a deal with the Syrian government in order to repel the Turkish incursion.
Russia is the major ally of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Turkey has been calling on Assad to step down since the beginning of the war in 2011.
Earlier on Oct. 22, President Erdoğan said that some 700 or 800 SDF militants withdrew from the area, while 1,300 others are expected to leave as well.
He also talked about the weapons supplied to Kurdish militants by the U.S., saying that “it was easy to bring them here, but not so easy to take them out.”
Turkey’s Defense Ministry said that a total of 136 vehicles belonging to the SDF have left the area.