President Vladimir V. Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan plan to meet in the southern Russian Black Sea resort town of Sochi on Friday for a second face-to- face conversation in less than three weeks, against a complex backdrop of dovetailing and competing interests. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, described the talks in Sochi as a continuation of their talks in Iran on July 19, covering everything from drones to grain shipments to Syria. Mr. Erdogan has emerged as an important mediator between Ukraine and Russia, which is trying to break out of the economic and political isolation imposed by the West over its invasion of Ukraine. The applicant was instrumental in achieving an agreement between the two countries to restart Ukrainian grain shipments through the Black Sea.
Erdogan is on a fine line to keep his ability to talk to both Russia and NATO s foe, and to Western members of the alliance. Turkey has held to its refusal to join Western sanctions against Russia, irking NATO allies, but Mr. Erdogan has eased his initial objections to Sweden and Finland joining the alliance as a bulwark against Russian aggression. Russia provided a fourth of the country's crude imports and almost half of its natural gas purchases last year, and was a key supplier of energy to Turkey. The Russian state nuclear corporation is planning to build a nuclear power plant in the Mediterranean, which is expected to provide 10 percent of Turkey's energy needs after its scheduled completion in 2026. Turkey is becoming an important transshipment point for goods headed to Russia now that many Western freight companies no longer handle Russian-bound shipments for fear of defying sanctions, the Turkish newspaper Dunya reported on Thursday. The country remains a popular destination for Russian tourists with 1.4 million visits this year, according to Interfax. There are still stark differences between the two leaders. Their countries backed opposing sides in the civil war in Turkey's neighbor, Syria. The Kremlin has expended blood and treasure to support President Bashar al-Assad, while Turkey, which has absorbed more than 3.7 million Syrian war refugees, supports an opposing rebel faction and is threatening a new military offensive in Syria s north. They have also been involved in opposing sides in the violent border dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
According to the Interfax news agency, military-technical cooperation between the two countries is permanently on the agenda, and the fact that our interaction is developing in this sensitive sphere shows that the entire range of our interrelations is at a very high level, according to Dmitri S. Peskov, Russia's presidential press secretary.