President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey is planning to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi to discuss the Black Sea grain deal and other issues.
Media in Ankara confirmed the meeting and said that Erdogan had “so far led an intense diplomacy in order to help prevent a global food crisis,” according to an AKP party official, Daily Sabah reported.
Turkey is apparently working to resurrect the grain deal that enabled the export of grain from Ukraine. This is important for countries around the world as the Russian invasion of Ukraine has led to numerous economic setbacks and aftershocks.
For instance, India has banned some rice exports and this could fuel a growing global food crisis. The unintended consequences of invasion could lead to a kind of domino effect in a world already shocked by a recent pandemic and inflation.
Turkish-Russian ties have warmed over the last decades as Ankara has drifted away from its Western allies. Turkey pursues its own foreign policy which it wants to be independent of the West. As such, it works with countries like China, Iran, and Russia.
However, Turkey has also had good relations with Ukraine and supplied Ukraine with some Bayraktar drones before the war. Turkey helped broker a grain deal that enabled grain to leave Ukraine and not be blockaded by Russia. The naval war in the Black Sea has heated up recently, however, as Ukraine strikes at Russian naval vessels with unmanned drone ships. Russia in turn is threatening commercial ships that deal with Ukraine.
“Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Friday to discuss the deal, as well as his peace formula for ending the war with Russia. Earlier Monday, TASS news agency said Fidan would also meet his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, likely preceding Erdogan and Putin’s meeting….Putin told Erdogan in a phone call on Aug. 2 that Moscow was ready to return to the Black Sea grain deal as soon,” Turkey’s pro-government Daily Sabah noted.
Erdogan and Putin will be meeting for the first time since the elections in Turkey in May. The two leaders often met frequently in the past.
Turkey and Russia also working toward deal on Syria
In addition, Turkey and Russia are working on deals regarding Syria. Russia backs the Syrian regime while Turkey has backed some Syrian rebels in the past. Both countries oppose the US presence in Syria. The meeting with Erdogan will help bring Putin in from the cold as some countries have sought to isolate Russia.
In addition, Putin will travel to China in October for a Belt and Road Forum, reports say. This will be an important trip and he is expected to meet with China’s leader. This comes after the BRICS group of countries met in South Africa and even though Russia is part of BRICS, Putin was noticeably absent. Nevertheless, China and Russia use BRICS to try to carve out a new global order that will challenge the US-led world order that is anchored in the West.
Putin told Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi that he will not attend the G20 Summit in Delhi next month, the BBC reported on Wednesday. India is hosting this year's summit on September 9 and 10. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov would attend the summit on Putin’s behalf.
Between BRICS, the G20, and the Erdogan meeting, Russia is clearly making a play to revive its role in the world. It’s plausible that the Erdogan meeting may lead to the signing or discussion of other agreements. Some of these may be mentioned by media but some may be secret and may involve initiates in Syria or other locations. Both Turkey and Russia have keen interests in Africa and other fields they work on together.