Three weeks ago, Turkish Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Putin met in Tehran to discuss re-opening grain shipments from Ukraine through the Black Sea. Turkey and the UN mediated an agreement allowing certain ships past Russian blockades. Historically, Russia and Turkey are economically tied, with the TurkStream pipeline running Russian gas. But Turkey is a member of NATO and a major weapon supplier to Ukraine. But it hasn’t imposed sanctions on Russia like the West and clashes with Russia when it comes to the conflict in Syria.
On Friday, Erdogan and Putin met again in the southern Russian city of Sochi for a four-hour closed-door meeting. The two said the talk was about transport, agriculture, finance, and construction cooperation. They also talked about Syria, and Erdogan said it would make some of the country’s oil payments in rubles. Some rumors and reports have said that Putin is also looking to buy stakes in Turkish oil processors, which experts have said could help hide the origins of Russian oil exports before the EU oil ban. Russia may also seek a bank deal to manage financial sanctions, which would open Turkey to secondary sanctions from the West, but no specifics like this have been confirmed.
“This is a very pressing problem for many countries, first and foremost, the developing ones that are on the brink of big problems with food and fertilizer supply. The decisions made with your direct participation are very important for all these countries,” Putin told Erdoğan when talking about the Ukrainian grain deal.
“Despite the current regional and global challenges, the leaders reaffirmed a common will to further develop Russian-Turkish relations on the basis of respect, recognition of mutual interests and in accordance with their international obligations.
As part of these understandings, the two leaders held broad consultations on the bilateral agenda of Russia-Turkey relations and agreed on the following: to increase bilateral trade in a balanced manner and achieve their goals; to meet the expectations of the opposite side in the economic and energy fields; to take concrete steps to increase interaction on issues that have long been on the agenda of both countries, in sectors such as transport, trade, agriculture and energy; to take concrete steps to increase cooperation on issues that have been on the agenda of both countries for a long time; and to increase cooperation in the field of energy.
On regional issues, the leaders stressed the key importance of sincere, candid and trustful relations between Russia and Turkey in achieving regional and international stability. The need to ensure full implementation of the Istanbul package deal in accordance with its letter and spirit, including unimpeded export of Russian grain, fertilizers and raw materials for their production, was emphasized,” wrote the joint statement.