Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan are meeting in the southern Russian Black Sea resort town of Sochi, the site of the 2014 Winter Olympics. It is the second such face-to-face meeting in less than three weeks.
Ankara has emerged as an important mediator between Kyiv and Moscow, proving instrumental in forging an agreement between Russia and Ukraine to restart Ukrainian grain shipments through the Black Sea.
“Military-technical cooperation between the two countries is permanently on the agenda, and the very fact that our interaction is developing in this sensitive sphere shows that, on the whole, the entire range of our interrelations is at a very high level,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday.
The two leaders met in Iran on July 19th and discussed issues such as drones, grain shipments, energy, and Syria. Some conversations included Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Ankara is seeking to maintain close ties with Moscow amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Turkey, a NATO member, has refused to implement sanctions on Russia, much to the ire of other NATO states. After initially objecting to Sweden’s and Finland’s bids to join the alliance, Turkey has begun to soften its stance towards NATO expansion.
Russia supplies more than 25% of Turkey’s crude oil imports and almost half of its natural gas. Russia’s state nuclear corporation, Rosatom, is building a nuclear power plant on the Mediterranean that is expected to provide 10% of Turkey’s energy needs upon completion in 2026.
At the same time, significant differences remain between Putin and Erdogan over Syria and Nagorno Karabakh.