Turkish President Erdogan visited Russia’s Sochi to meet with Kremlin’s Putin, urging a revival of the Ukraine grain export deal that alleviated a global food crisis.
Since October, Erdogan’s initial in-person encounter with Putin has occurred amid ongoing Russian efforts to repel a renewed Kyiv offensive, which has gained momentum following intense clashes along Ukraine’s southern front for the past three months.
The Turkish leader aims to utilize the upcoming informal summit in Sochi, a Black Sea resort, as a foundation for potential peace talks. While certain Western officials are discussing this prospect, both sides are determined to ensure that negotiations occur according to their respective conditions and preferences.
Erdogan remains among the rare NATO leaders with ongoing direct communication access to Putin.
The relationship between the two leaders has been both close and tumultuous, seemingly becoming more resilient since Russia initiated its “special military operation” in February 2022.
Putin’s choice to defer and reduce Turkey’s payments for Russian gas imports played a role in alleviating an economic crisis, which nearly hindered Erdogan’s re-election victory in May.
Russia and Ukraine are prominent global agricultural producers, holding significant roles in markets such as wheat, barley, maize, rapeseed, rapeseed oil, sunflower seed, and sunflower oil.
Turkey reciprocated by abstaining from participating in Western sanctions against Moscow and becoming a vital channel for Russia’s access to services and goods. Nonetheless, Erdogan’s actions have sometimes vexed Putin, mainly due to Turkey’s supply of weapons to Ukraine and support for its NATO aspirations.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s vital economic officials, including Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek and central bank governor Hafize Gaye Erkan, are scheduled for meetings in Russia on Monday, according to an anonymous Turkish official cited by Reuters.
During their conversation, Putin informed Erdogan about progress in the energy sector between their countries, while Erdogan emphasized the significance of discussions involving their central banks.
Moscow and Kyiv are currently seeking Erdogan’s support in their dispute concerning grain and tensions in the Black Sea.