Turkey stands with Russia against sanctions!

Russia said on Wednesday it was lifting most of the sanctions it had imposed on Ankara after the Turkish military shot down a Russian fighter jet over the border with Syria 18 months ago.

The move underscores an easing of tensions between Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, his Turkish counterpart, after a long-running diplomatic spat that was seen as a test of resolve between the two strongmen.

Mr Putin partially restored a bilateral agreement on visa-free movement between the two countries on Wednesday, lifted restrictions on Turkish companies operating in Russia and ended a ban on employing Turkish workers in the country. He also ended an embargo on a range of Turkish imports, the Kremlin said.

The decision to lift the sanctions comes almost a year after Mr Putin and Mr Erdogan vowed to repair ties following an apology by the Turkish president for the shooting down of the fighter jet.

The rapprochement between Russia and Turkey also comes after Ankara has appeared to soften its stance on President Bashar al-Assad, no longer publicly calling for the Syrian leader to immediately step down.

Moscow, which backs the Assad regime, and Ankara, one of the main supporters of the Syrian opposition, also co-operated to broker a ceasefire for Aleppo, the northern Syrian city, in December and have mediated peace talks.

The truce has not held, but diplomats in Moscow said the co-operation helped Russia and Turkey identify areas of joint interest in Syria as the two emerged as pivotal foreign powers involved in the conflict.

The lifting of the sanctions will bring some relief for Turkey’s struggling economy.

Turkey was one of the best-performing emerging markets, but it has been battered by instability and weak investor sentiment since a failed coup last year. Mr Erdogan has imposed a state of emergency and launched a sweeping crackdown targeting the military, the civil service, media and opposition politicians.

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