The highlight of the meeting between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in the Black Sea resort of Sochi seemed to be their conversation about the coronavirus and vaccines.
The two leaders did not hold a press meeting following their Sept. 29 meeting, but Putin thanked Erdoğan for the visit which he called “useful” and “substantive.”
Erdoğan on the other hand released a statement on his Twitter account, referring to the meeting as being “productive.”
Mevkidaşım Putin ile verimli bir görüşme gerçekleştirerek Soçi’den ayrıldık… pic.twitter.com/NLBpvSxumC— Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (@RTErdogan) September 29, 2021
Turkish officials said before the meeting that Erdoğan would press Putin for a return to a ceasefire agreed last year to end a Russian and Syrian army assault on Turkey-backed fighters in Syria's Idlib region.
At the start of their talks, Erdoğan told Putin: "The steps we take together regarding Syria carry great importance. The peace there is dependent on Turkey-Russia ties."
Putin made only a passing reference to Syria in his opening comments, saying it was one of the areas where the two countries cooperated fairly successfully.
Without the release of any details to the media after the talks, the only highlight of the day was a conversation starting with Erdoğan asking Putin about his “antibody levels.”
The question came as the Russian leader has just ended his self-isolation following exposure to COVID-19 amid an outbreak among his staff earlier this month.
Putin responded by saying he remembers his antibody level as being “15-16,” which was found “very low” by Erdoğan.
Erdoğan: Antikor seviyeniz ne?— Sputnik Türkiye (@sputnik_TR) September 29, 2021
Putin: 15-16 seviyesinde
Erdoğan: Çok düşük
Putin: Farklı yöntemlerle hesaplama yapılıyor. Siz de güçlendirici doz olarak Sputnik V aşısı yaptırın
Erdoğan: Ben üçüncü aşımı oldum
Putin: O zaman bir dahaki seferehttps://t.co/WEjbRYxwON pic.twitter.com/IWrDlBpxFw
In response, Putin said there are “different methods of calculation” and recommended Erdoğan to get Sputnik V as a booster shot.
“My antibody level is high. Thank God, the disease has bypassed me. Although I spent an entire day with someone who was infected with the coronavirus, I have not become sick. When it is time for you to get your booster shot, take it on time and use Sputnik V vaccine,” Putin said.
Erdoğan said that he had already received a Pfizer-BioNTech booster jab, to which Putin responded by saying: “Then the next time [get Sputnik V].”
In June, Erdoğan had come under fire after it was revealed that he received three COVID-19 vaccine doses despite Turkey at the time struggling to procure enough for its citizens.
Erdoğan, 67, received his first dose of China’s Sinovac vaccine in January and a second shot in February.
At the beginning of June, he admitted that he had had a third dose in March.