President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, plan to meet on Friday in the resort town of Sochi, in Russia’s southern Black Sea, for a second face-to-face conversation. two in less than three weeks amid a complex landscape of mutual interests and competition.
Aides to the leaders described the Sochi talks as a continuation of their discussions in Iran on July 19 – some of which included Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader high levels of Iran — including everything from drones to grain to energy shipments to Syria.
Mr. Erdogan has emerged as an important mediator between Ukraine and Russia, which is seeking to break out of the economic and political isolation imposed by the West over its invasion of Ukraine. Turkey, a NATO member and EU applicants are long disappointedproved instrumental in forging an agreement between the two warring nations to urgently restart Ukrainian grain shipments through the Black Sea.
The deal is currently being tested, with a first ship leaving the Ukrainian port of Odesa on Monday for Lebanon and three more cleared to leave Ukrainian ports on Friday, with much-needed grain shipments. to help address the growing global food shortage.
Mr. Erdogan is trying to maintain the possibility of dialogue both with Russia, NATO’s enemy, and with the alliance’s Western members. Turkey has refused to join Western sanctions against Russia, upsetting its NATO allies, but Mr. for Sweden and Finland to join the alliance as a bulwark against Russian aggression.
Russia is a key energy supplier to Turkey, supplying a quarter of the country’s crude oil imports and nearly half of its natural gas purchases last year. Rosatom, Russia’s state nuclear corporation, is building a nuclear power plant on the Mediterranean that is expected to provide 10% of Turkey’s energy needs once it is scheduled to be completed next year. 2026.
For its part, Turkey is becoming an important transit point for cargo to Russia as many Western freight companies no longer handle shipments from Russia for fear of defying sanctions, Dunya newspaper reported. of Turkey reported on Thursday. And the country remains a popular destination for Russian tourists, with 1.4 million visits this year, according to Interfax.
Still, there are stark differences between the two leaders. Their countries have supported opposing sides in the civil war in Syria, which is neighboring Turkey. The Kremlin has spent blood and treasure in support of President Bashar al-Assad, while Turkey, which has hosted more than 3.7 million Syrian war refugees, backs the opposition rebels. and is threatening a new military offensive in northern Syria. They have also joined opposing sides in the border dispute that has raged between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
Their relationship over weapons is also complicated. In recent years, Turkey has defied NATO partners to buy Russian anti-aircraft missiles. And now, Russia – starved by war-related Western sanctions over technology such as guidance systems for missiles and drones – is urgently looking for matériel, a topic of interest. which Friday’s talks promise to resolve.
“Military-technical cooperation between the two countries is frequently on the agenda, and the fact that our interaction is growing in this sensitive area shows, in general, the full scope of the relationship. Our cooperation is at a very high level,” Dmitri S. Peskov, press secretary to the Russian President, told reporters on Wednesday, according to the Interfax news agency.
Safak Timur contribution report.