Russian President Vladimir Putin has unexpectedly postponed his planned trip to Turkey, marking a significant change in the diplomatic itinerary of the Russian leader. This trip was anticipated to be Putin's first visit to a NATO country since the onset of the Ukraine invasion nearly two years ago.
However, Russian state news agency Tass reports that the visit will not proceed as scheduled.
"A diplomatic source has informed the Russian channel that the visit has been postponed. The details remain unknown," Tass disclosed.
The visit, which had been a topic of speculation among international observers, was expected to address issues related to Ukraine among other diplomatic discussions. Kremlin had previously acknowledged the planning of a trip to Turkey but had not specified a date.
"The exact timeline for the visit has not been determined," Kremlin spokesperson Dmitrij Peskov stated in January, as reported by Tass.
Turkish authorities had suggested February 12 as a tentative date for Putin's visit. Yuri Ushakov, a top foreign policy advisor to Putin, had indicated that Ukrainian issues would likely be a primary subject of discussion during the visit.
"A visit is being prepared. Ukrainian matters will probably be one of the main topics," he informed Interfax news agency.
Turkey's role as a key player in NATO, boasting the second-largest standing military force in the alliance after the USA, highlights the significance of Putin's planned visit.
The USA operates two airbases in Turkey and stores nuclear weapons in the country, underscoring the strategic importance of Turkish-American relations.
Despite its critical position within NATO, Turkey has maintained diplomatic ties with Russia throughout the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Under President Erdoğan's leadership, Turkey has supplied military aid to Ukraine but has refrained from joining Western sanctions against Moscow.
Turkey's balancing act between Russia and Ukraine has been evident, as the country benefits from tourism and economic exchanges with both nations.
Turkey's drone manufacturing industry has found customers in Ukraine, while the nation also relies on Russian gas imports, according to the Swedish Institute of International Affairs.