Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, shakes hands with Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after their joint news conference following the talks in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Jan. 23, 2019.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, shakes hands with Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after their joint news conference following the talks in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Jan. 23, 2019.

MOSCOW - Tensions appear to be surfacing between Russia and Turkey just hours into a three-way summit on the Syrian conflict being hosted in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

According to Kremlin spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, Russia has told Turkey it lacked authorization to create a "safe zone" inside Syria without the express consent of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

FILE - Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, right, listens to Arab League Secretary-General, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, as he departs the Arab League headquarters after meetings, in Cairo, Egypt, Monday, May 29, 2017.
Russia Lobbies for Syria to Rejoin Arab League
Russia is lobbying the Arab League to re-admit Bashar al-Assad’s Syria as a member, say diplomats based in the region.

"The question of the presence of a military contingent acting on the authority of a third country on the territory of a sovereign country, and especially Syria, must be decided directly by Damascus," she told reporters during a press conference. "That's our base position."

FILE - In this Dec. 11, 2017, frame grab made avai
FILE - In this Dec. 11, 2017, frame grab made available by Russian Presidential TV Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, right, greets Russian President Vladimir Putin upon his arrival to the Hemeimeem air base in Syria.

While Russia and Iran, whose president also is participating in the summit, are close allies of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad—Turkey, like the United States, which already is beginning to withdraw equipment from the country as part of a recently announced troop withdrawal—supports differing Syrian rebel factions.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) speaks to Russian President Vladimir Putin, during their meeting in the Bocharov Ruchei residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi in Sochi, Russia, Sept. 17, 2018.
Turkey, Russia at Odds Over Syria Ahead of Key Summit
Russia is hosting a three-way summit this week on Syria even as growing diplomatic differences between two participants threaten to undermine the event.Thursday's talks on the Black Sea resort of Sochi involve Russia, Turkey and Iran; however, Moscow and Ankara are at odds over border security and other concerns.Moscow is demanding “decisive action” from Ankara over Idlib, the last remaining rebel-controlled Syrian enclave, while Ankara is pressing for support for its demand to create a safe zone in…

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has long insisted that Syria's territorial integrity will be compromised so long as U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish YPG militants, whom Ankara considers terrorists, remain in the area.

All three countries have made efforts to coordinate military forces on the ground, but contradictory military objectives—and competition for natural resources in Syria's oil-rich northern regions, has created friction between Moscow and Ankara in particular.

President Donald Trump's surprise announcement of a U.S. troop withdrawal has been welcomed by Russia, Turkey, Iran and Syria, though the sudden shift has left Astana trio leaders unclear about how to reconfigure their objectives in the absence of U.S. forces.

FILE - Iran's President Hassan Rouhani, from left, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan  and Russia's President Vladimir Putin shake hands after a joint press conference as part of a tripartite summit on Syria, in Ankara, April 4, 2018.
Russia, Turkey, Iran Poised to Map Syria's Future
The leaders of Russia, Iran and Turkey are meeting in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi Thursday to discuss the conflict in Syria for the first time since the United States announced its troop withdrawal.Although the Kremlin hasn't divulged details, a number of observers say questions about the strategic implications of a U.S.

Some high level U.S. officials have anticipated that diplomatic differences between Ankara and Moscow could undermine progress at the summit.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Thursday the three presidents would discuss the formation of a committee that would be tasked with drafting a postwar constitution for Syria.

Lavrov did not discuss whether Syrian officials would be involved in that process.

Pete Cobus is VOA's acting Moscow correspondent.