ISTANBUL/MOSCOW (Reuters) - As Turkey's relations with Europe and the United States are strained by the fallout from its failed coup, President Tayyip Erdogan travels to Russia on Tuesday to meet Vladimir Putin in a trip he may hope will give the West pause for thought.
Turkish officials insist Erdogan's visit to St. Petersburg is no sign that the NATO member and European Union membership candidate is turning its back on the West. Rather, they say, it is the next step in a rapprochement with Russia that started weeks before the July 15 attempted putsch.
But the thaw with Moscow, which imposed trade sanctions nine months ago after Turkey downed a Russian fighter jet near the Syrian border, comes as Ankara's relationship with the West could scarcely be more fractious.
Erdogan and many Turks have been incensed by what they see as Western concern over a post-coup crackdown but indifference to the bloody events themselves, in which more than 230 people were killed as rogue soldiers bombed parliament and seized bridges with tanks and helicopters.
The Turkish government has blamed the coup on followers of a cleric in self-imposed exile in the United States, and purged tens of thousands of his suspected followers from positions as teachers, police, judges and soldiers. Western countries say the purge has been too fast and indiscriminate. READ MORE