Presidents of Russia and Turkey Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan are holding talks in Sochi today. As noted in the Kremlin, the leaders can discuss issues of bilateral cooperation, “synchronize watches” on the effectiveness of the mechanism for exporting grain from Ukrainian ports, and exchange views on world affairs, in particular, on the situation in Syria and Ukraine.
According to the press secretary of the Russian leader Dmitry Peskov, Putin is also scheduled to have “a lot of conversations, many working meetings that do not fall into the public eye, but, nevertheless, take place in large numbers during the day,” reports TASS.
Ankara also sees the Sochi talks between Erdogan and Putin as a continuation of the July 19 meeting in Tehran on the sidelines of the Astana Troika summit, where topical issues of bilateral relations and the agenda were discussed. “If there is a need for new negotiations, it means that the parties have something to say to each other,” Hussein Bagci, director of the Turkish Foreign Policy Institute, told TASS in this regard.
Peskov clarified that the format of the talks involves a tête-à-tête conversation between the leaders, as well as Russian-Turkish talks in an expanded format. Then the two presidents will continue to communicate one on one over a working lunch.
Grain agreements and the situation in Syria
According to the Kremlin spokesman, a fairly wide range of topics is on the agenda of the upcoming meeting. “First of all, the various dimensions of our bilateral relations: this is trade and economic cooperation, this is a discussion of regional conflicts, of course, and an exchange of views on Ukrainian and Syrian affairs. This requires the personal attention of the two presidents,” Peskov said.
One of the main issues on the agenda of the Sochi meeting, as the official representative of the Turkish leader Ibrahim Kalyn said earlier, will be the situation in Ukraine. He proceeds from the fact that the grain deal concluded on July 22 in Istanbul by the Quartet, if successfully implemented, could contribute to the start of negotiations to resolve the Ukrainian crisis. A similar opinion was expressed last Wednesday by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.
Peskov also confirmed that a separate block at the talks will be devoted to regional issues, among which are the situation in Syria and the situation in Ukraine. It is expected that the leaders of the Russian Federation and Turkey will discuss in detail the agreements on grain in the light of possible shipments of Russian agricultural products and fertilizers by sea. “It’s a good opportunity to compare notes on the effectiveness of the mechanism for exporting grain from Ukrainian ports, to see how efficiently it works. Well, and to exchange views on world affairs. The agenda, as we can see, is very, very tense,” the Kremlin spokesman explained.
Peskov stressed: “There will be an exchange of views on how the first flight with grain from Odessa went. In general, this is a good opportunity to evaluate the effectiveness of the mechanism that was created thanks to the Istanbul agreements.” He added that the agreement on the export of products is “not a one-time mechanism.” “This is a mechanism that is designed to ensure the export of the grain that is in these [украинских] ports have accumulated, and we hope that this mechanism will continue to work just as effectively,” said the press secretary of the President of the Russian Federation. He called it “a good example that the most complex issues can be resolved taking into account the interests of all parties How can we negotiate.”
Experts in Ankara do not rule out that Erdogan may suggest to Putin that the Istanbul agreements be used as a basis for resolving the energy crisis that Europe may face this winter due to energy shortages and a possible cessation of Russian gas supplies. This option is considered possible by Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar. He voiced it immediately after the signing of the Istanbul agreements.
The new military operation planned by Turkey in northern Syria will also be discussed at the talks in Sochi and, as Turkish analysts note, may be one of the main issues on the agenda. Erdogan has previously stated that the purpose of the operation is to expand the 30-kilometer security zone created in October 2019 after Operation Peace Spring. Both presidents have repeatedly discussed the issue of conducting a cross-border operation, including in Tehran.
Escalation in Karabakh
Putin and Erdogan at the talks in Sochi on Friday may discuss the aggravation of the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, Peskov admitted in an interview with reporters. “It cannot be ruled out that the presidents will exchange views in connection with this aggravation,” he answered the corresponding question from TASS.
As previously stated in the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, an aggravation of the situation is noted in the zone of responsibility of the Russian peacekeeping contingent in Nagorno-Karabakh. According to the ministry, the ceasefire regime was violated by the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan in the area of the Sarybaba height. The command of the peacekeepers, together with representatives of the Azerbaijani and Armenian sides, is taking measures to stabilize the situation.
Peskov also did not rule out discussing military-technical cooperation between Russia and Turkey. “Military-technical cooperation between the two countries is constantly on the agenda, and the very fact that our cooperation is developing in such a sensitive area suggests that, in general, its entire complex is at a very high level,” the Kremlin spokesman stated. He confirmed that “including the recent contacts between the two presidents [19 июля в Тегеране] The topic of military-technical cooperation in its various dimensions was touched upon. “As a rule, various aspects are discussed at almost every meeting, so yes, the topic of military-technical cooperation will certainly be discussed in Sochi,” Peskov said.
However, he did not answer the question of whether cooperation on the production of drones from Baykar Makina will be on the agenda. On this account, the official representative of the Turkish leader, Ibrahim Kalin, on the air of the TV company Channel 7 noted that at the talks in Tehran on July 19 it was “a half-joking conversation and there is no question of any obligations.”
Issues on the bilateral agenda
Despite the predominance of the international agenda, Putin and Erdogan will not bypass the issues of bilateral relations at the talks in Sochi, Peskov said. It will be about economic cooperation.
According to the head of the Russian-Turkish Business Council, Naki Karaaslan, the trade turnover between Turkey and Russia could reach $60 billion by the end of 2022. In the same six months, this figure exceeded $30 billion and is moving towards $50 billion. Russia and Turkey amounted to about $35 billion.
Ankara believes that during Erdogan’s visit to Russia, the issue of an early transition to national currencies in mutual settlements will be raised. The head of the Turkish Central Bank, Shahap Kavcioglu, previously reported that the relevant work on the part of the regulators of the two countries had been completed, he was counting on a positive outcome of the negotiations at the political level.
An important component of the economic agenda of the talks will be the implementation of the construction project for Turkey’s first nuclear power plant, Akkuyu. On July 21, the construction of the fourth power unit was launched at the station site. The launch of the first Akkuyu power unit is planned for 2023, when Turkey will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the proclamation of the republic.
A press conference between Putin and Erdogan following the summit is not scheduled, due to time constraints on the Turkish side, Russian Presidential Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov said earlier.
The Ukrayinska Pravda publication noted that the head of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, also arrived as part of the Russian delegation.
Moscow turned to Turkey for help in circumventing the sanctions. About it writes The Washington Post in an articlededicated to the visit of the President of Turkey to Sochi. The article says that on the eve of the talks between the presidents of the Russian Federation and Turkey in Sochi, Ukrainian intelligence intercepted the corresponding proposal of the Russian authorities.
According to the intercept, the Russian Federation is urging Turkey to allow it to buy stakes in Turkish refineries, oil terminals and tanks. This decision, The Washington Post notes, could help hide the origin of oil and circumvent sanctions, including the EU oil embargo.
Russia also asks to open accounts in state Turkish banks for the largest financial structures of the Russian Federation, as well as to allow Russian industrial producers to work inside the free economic zones of Turkey.
At the same time, the newspaper writes, there are no signs that Turkey will agree to the Russian proposal, since such support threatens to impose secondary sanctions on Turkish banks and companies.