MOSCOW (TSWT) – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan traveled to Russia on Friday for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin that are expected to focus on a Turkey-brokered grain deal, prospects for talks on ending hostilities in Ukraine and the situation in Ukraine. Syria.
Last month, Turkey and the United Nations helped negotiate deals between Russia and Ukraine to clear the way for Ukraine to export 22 million tons of grain and other agricultural products stuck in the ports on the Black Sea since Moscow over five sent troops into the country months ago . The deals 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 ship departed earlier this week.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Friday’s talks in Sochi and Erdogan 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 Syria.
In March, Turkey organized a round of talks between Russian and Ukrainian negotiators discussing a possible deal to end hostilities. But talks broke down after the Istanbul meeting, with Russia and Ukraine blaming each other for the lack of progress.
NATO member Turkey and Russia have a complex relationship. While the two countries support opposing sides in Syria and Libya, they work closely together on defense, energy and trade deals. Their relationship has frustrated Turkey’s western allies, who were especially annoyed by Ankara’s purchase of an advanced Russian air defense system.
Turkey has supplied Ukraine with drones, which have played an important role in deterring the Russian advance in the early phase of the conflict, but it has not joined any sanctions against Russia.
Amid a major economic crisis with official inflation at nearly 80%, Turkey increasingly relies on Russia for trade and tourism. It also depends on Russia for natural gas imports, and the Russian Atomic Energy Agency is building Turkey’s first nuclear power plant.
Relations between Russia and Turkey hit rock bottom in 2015 when Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet near the Syrian border and Moscow responded by halting tourism to Turkey and banning the import of fruits and vegetables and other products from Turkey.
While Moscow and Ankara have supported opposing sides in the Syrian conflict, with Russia backing President Bashar Assad’s government with Iranian aid, while Turkey has supported the opposition, the two countries have worked closely together to negotiate a ceasefire in northwestern Syria.
Turkey now hopes that Moscow will give the green light for a Turkish operation in northern Syria against Kurdish militants whom Turkey considers terrorists.
Zeynep Bilginsoy in Istanbul, Turkey contributed to this report.