TOP STORIES Vladimir Putin and Tayyip Erdogan met in Sochi

Vladimir Putin and Tayyip Erdogan met in Sochi


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Russian President Vladimir V. Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan met Friday in the Black Sea resort town of Sochi in southern Russia for a second face-to-face conversation in less than three weeks amid a complex backdrop of overlapping and competing interests.

Aides to the leaders presented the talks in Sochi as a continuation of their discussions in Iran on July 19, which included Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, on issues such as drones, grain supplies, energy and Syria.

Mr. Erdogan has become an important intermediary between Ukraine and Russia, which is looking for ways to break out of the economic and political isolation imposed by the West due to its invasion of Ukraine. Turkey, a member of NATO and a long-lost bidder for EU membership, played a major role in brokering an agreement between the two warring countries to urgently resume supplies of Ukrainian grain across the Black Sea.

In a brief speech to the cameras before the start of the leaders’ discussion, Putin thanked Erdogan for Turkey’s role in brokering a Ukrainian grain export deal that also allowed Russian food and fertilizer to be exported. Particular attention was paid to economic issues, and Mr. Putin expressed the hope that the talks would lead to the expansion of trade and economic ties.

With regard to Syria, Mr. Putin said they would discuss “security issues in the region, primarily the Syrian crisis,” focusing on efforts to normalize the situation in that country rather than sharp differences. Turkey has long threatened to invade Kurdish groups along the border, but wants to do so without risking an armed confrontation with Russia that soured relations in 2015 after the Turks shot down a Russian fighter jet.

Mr. Erdogan, touching on many of the same topics, said the steps taken on issues such as energy, grain, the Black Sea and transport are examples of the important role that Turkey and Russia play in the region.

Mr. Erdogan is walking a fine line in order to retain the ability to negotiate with both Russia, NATO’s adversary, and Western members of the alliance. Turkey has insisted on its refusal to join Western sanctions against Russia, irritating its NATO allies, but Mr. Erdogan has also taken the plunge to ease his initial objections to Sweden and Finland joining the alliance as a bulwark against Russian aggression.

Russia is Turkey’s biggest energy supplier, providing a quarter of the country’s crude oil imports and almost half of its natural gas purchases last year. Rosatom, Russia’s state-owned nuclear corporation, is building a nuclear power plant in the Mediterranean that is projected to supply 10 percent of Turkey’s energy needs when it is scheduled to be completed in 2026.

For its part, Turkey is becoming an important transshipment point for goods bound for Russia as many Western freight companies no longer ship goods to Russia for fear of violating sanctions, Turkish newspaper Dunya reported on Thursday. The country also remains a popular destination for Russian tourists.

However, sharp differences remain between the two leaders. Their countries have supported the opposing sides in the civil war in Syria, neighboring Turkey. The Kremlin has shed blood and money to support President Bashar al-Assad, while Turkey, which has taken in more than 3.7 million Syrian military refugees, is backing an opposing rebel group and threatening a new military offensive in northern Syria. They have also been involved on opposing sides in the burgeoning border dispute between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

Their relationship regarding weapons is also complex. In recent years, Turkey has denied its NATO partners the purchase of Russian anti-aircraft missiles. And now Russia, jaded by war-related Western sanctions on technologies such as guidance systems for missiles and drones, is urgently seeking equipment.

“Military-technical cooperation between the two countries is constantly on the agenda, and the very fact that our interaction is developing in this sensitive area indicates that, in general, the whole range of our relations is at a very high level,” Dmitry said. This was announced to journalists on Wednesday by the press secretary of the President of Russia S. Peskov, the Interfax agency reports.

East Safak made a report.

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