Turkey's president heads to Russia amid improving ties


President Recep Tayyip Erdogan heads to Russia this week as part of efforts to rebuild ties shattered by Turkey's downing of a Russian warplane last year — just as Turkey's relations with traditional allies the United States and Europe show increasing strain amid Ankara's crackdown following a failed coup.

Tuesday's visit to St. Petersburg for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin will be Erdogan's first foreign trip since the abortive July 15 putsch, in which a group of renegade Turkish military officers attempted to seize power using fighter jets, helicopters and tanks in a night of violence that left more than 270 people dead.