Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan traveled to Russia on Friday for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, which is expected to focus on a Turkey-brokered grain deal, the prospect of talks being held. negotiations on ending hostilities in Ukraine and the situation in Syria.
Last month, Turkey and the United Nations helped broker deals between Russia and Ukraine clear the way for Ukraine to export 22 million tons of grain and other agricultural products that have been stuck at Black Sea ports since the collapse of the border. Moscow sent troops into the country more than five months ago. . The agreements also allow Russia to export grain and fertilizer.
Three more ships carrying thousands of tons of corn left Ukrainian ports on Friday after the first left earlier this week.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Friday’s talks in Sochi will allow Putin and Erdogan to review the implementation of the grain deal. He noted that the two leaders will also discuss the situation in Ukraine and in Syria.
In March, Turkey hosted a round of talks between Russian and Ukrainian negotiators, who discussed a possible agreement to end hostilities. But talks broke down after the meeting in Istanbul, with Russia and Ukraine blaming each other for the lack of progress.
Turkey and Russia – NATO members have a complicated relationship. While the two countries support the oppositions in Syria and Libya, they work closely on defense, energy and trade deals. Their relationship has frustrated Turkey’s Western allies, who are particularly upset by Ankara’s purchase of a sophisticated Russian air defense system.
Turkey has supplied Ukraine with drones that have played a key role in stopping Russia’s advance in the early stages of the conflict, but it has not joined the sanctions against Russia.
Amid a major economic crisis with official inflation approaching 80%, Turkey is increasingly dependent on Russia for trade and tourism. It also depends on Russia for natural gas imports, and Russia’s atomic agency is building Turkey’s first nuclear power plant.
Russian-Turkish relations hit a low point in 2015 when Turkey shot down a Russian warplane near the Syrian border, and Moscow responded by suspending travel to Turkey and banning the import of illegal goods. plants, vegetables and other items from Turkey.
While Moscow and Ankara support opposing sides in the Syrian conflict, with Russia supporting the government of President Bashar Assad with Iran’s help while Turkey backs the opposition, the two countries have joined forces to support the opposition. working closely to negotiate a truce in northwestern Syria.
Turkey now hopes Moscow will give the green light to a Turkish operation into northern Syria against Kurdish fighters that Turkey considers terrorists.
Zeynep Bilginsoy of Istanbul, Turkey contributed to this report.