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Relations between Turkey and Russia are cozy, prompting worries in the West of a potentially critical rift in the NATO alliance. But Turkey's president may be engaged in a balancing act, tactically turning to Russia as ties with the U.S. further deteriorate over the detention of an American pastor. Points of contention between the U.S. and Turkey include American military support for Kurdish fighters in Syria who are considered terrorists by Turkey, Turkish appeals to the U.S. to extradite Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim preacher Turkey accuses of plotting a failed 2016 coup, and American pastor Andrew Brunson, who is being prosecuted in Turkey on terror-related charges.Both Russia and Turkey have come a long way in restoring their rapport since the Turkish military shot down a Russian military jet in 2015 along the Turkish-Syrian border.Turkey backs some groups fighting Assad.Turkey has dropped its insistence on the immediate departure of the Syrian president, while Russia has allowed Turkey to conduct cross-border operations against Kurdish militants in Syria. Turkey has also asked Russia to restrain Assad from launching an all-out offensive against the last major rebel stronghold in Idlib province, on the border with Turkey.
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