Vladimir Putin and Tayyip Erdogan Meet in Sochi

Chairperson Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, met on Friday in the Russian southern Black Sea resort town of Sochi, for a second face-to-face conversation in less than three weeks amid the complex landscape of mutual interest 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 of Iran – including issues such as drones, grain transport, energy and 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 to be instrumental in creating an agreement between the two warring nations to restarting grain shipments of Ukraine emergency Black Sea crossing.

In a brief address to the camera before the leaders’ discussions began, Putin thanked Erdogan for Turkey’s role in mediating a deal to export Ukrainian grain as well allow shipments of Russian food and fertilizers to be exported. Focusing heavily on economic issues, Putin expressed hope that the talks would lead to strengthened trade and economic ties.

On Syria, Putin said the two would discuss “security issues in the region, mainly the Syrian crisis”, choosing to emphasize efforts to normalize the situation there rather than focus on their sharp divisions. Turkey has long threatened an attack against Kurdish groups along the border, but wants to do so without risking an armed clash with Russia, the kind that fractured relations in 2015. after Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet.

Mr. Erdogan, while discussing many of the same topics, said that steps taken on issues such as energy, grains, the Black Sea and transportation were examples of the important role Turkey played. United States and Russia in the region.

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, much to the dismay of its NATO allies, but Mr. Sweden and Finland joined 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. The country also remains a popular destination for Russian tourists.

Still, there are stark differences between the two leaders. Their countries have supported opposing sides in the civil war in Syria, Turkey’s neighbor. 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 like missile guidance systems and drones – is urgently searching for Matériel.

“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.

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