In January, 2003, Vladimir Putin was the first non-Islamic leader to address the Organization of the Islamic Conference, which brings 57 Muslim countries together. This was a masterly political and diplomatic move, because he was there despite the continuing war in Chechnya. Putin said that 15% of the Russian Federation population was Muslim and that eight out of its 21 autonomous republics were entirely Muslim.
Putin and other Russian leaders, including Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, have from that time on been saying that Russia “is, to some extent, a part of the Muslim world.” In an interview on Al Jazeera on 16 October, 2003, Putin said that in contrast to Muslims living in Western Europe, Muslims in Russia were indigenous and that Islam entered Russian territory long before Christianity. For that reason, it now claims a privileged position in political relations with the Arab and Muslim world, and as a largely European state believes it has a historic mission to act as a mediator between the Western and Muslim worlds.
Now, Russia is not just looking for strong relations with Iran and Syria, but also with Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey, longstanding allies of the USA.
Russia’s desire to draw closer to the Islamic world, and Turkey in particular, which is taking significant steps toward the leadership of the Turkish-Islamic Union is especially noteworthy.
Mr. Adnan Oktar has recently been making detailed statements how the urgent foundation of the Turkish-Islamic Union, which will enable all countries to enjoy physical and spiritual well-being and live in peace and security, will considerably benefit not solely the Turkic states but also other countries. In the immediate wake of these statements by Mr. Oktar the leaders of several countries have issued statements setting out their opinions and ideas on such important subjects as acting in unison and collaborating in economic and political terms, as well as praising Islam.
One of the major developments to follow on from this is that Russia has adopted a more positive approach to the Turkish-Islamic world, and to Turkey in particular.