Although most of the subjects discussed between Putin and Erdogan in the meeting were kept discrete, what was revealed by the Russian spokesperson was the topic of trade. Türkiye’s effort in allowing Ukraine to resume its trade of grain exports was successful and lucrative as well. This deal was signed under the provision of Western states who assured that Russia would not face sanctions.
The deal was imperative because Ukrainian export is important for African and Middle Eastern states. If these states did not receive grain exports, they would be affected due to inflation and even famine. Moreover, the two states also agreed to boost their economic ties by engaging in trade in the future too. President Putin remarked, “I hope that today we will be able to sign a relevant memorandum on the development of our trade and economic ties.”
The meeting was fruitful for the Ukrainians as Türkiye was able to maintain bilateral ties with both Russia and Ukraine, and played an important role to mitigate the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The talks came after President Erdogan and President Putin had met in Iran three weeks before the meeting in Sochi, further strengthening the role of Türkiye as a mediator.
Security Issues in Syria
Unfortunately, the meeting did not resolve issues of security in the Middle East. Moreover, as Türkiye is a member of NATO, Western states fear that Russia will exploit their relations with Türkiye. Ramzan Kadyrov, the Chechen leader who sent forces under his command to Syria and Ukraine, was also present at the meeting. This illustrated that other than the economic agenda, some discrete subjects regarding security were also discussed as assessed by certain Russian reporters present at the talks.
Nevertheless, Türkiye’s attack on the Kurdish community seems to have been a central topic. Even though Mr. Putin is known to defend the Syrian government through the long civil war, no specification has been given as yet whether Russia advocated for the attacks or not. However, the two leaders reportedly agreed to “reaffirm their determination to act in coordination and solidarity in the fight against all terrorist organizations” in Syria.
Türkiye had previously sold drones at low prices to Ukraine. These very drones were also used against Russia in the invasion which also became the cause of major devastation for Russia. No contempt had been expressed from the Russian side as of yet. Therefore, nothing can be said about the discussion of the military ties between the two states.
The significance of the meeting for President Erdogan is immense. It not only made an impact on the international forum but also on Türkiye’s domestic forum. This can be lucrative for President Erdogan as it will help him win the hearts of the general public. The primary reason behind the meeting is to win in the upcoming general elections in June 2023. Therefore, the meeting will be of major assistance to the Turkish President to win the elections.
For Russia, the meeting was significant as the bilateral ties would promise economic prosperity. Moreover, the assurance that Russia will not have to face trade sanctions was important. An assurance like this certainly promised Russia economic security for the future.
Moreover, the agreement between the two Presidents was to change the payments for Russian gas to roubles, as was reported by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak to the journalists. This was part of the Istanbul deal which also dealt with Ukrainian grain export.
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