Turkey’s Erdogan to meet Putin in Russia, after Ankara helped broker a grain deal that eased global food crisis fears.
Istanbul, Turkey – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will meet his Russian counterpart on Friday in Sochi, after brokering a grain shipment deal between Moscow and Kyiv and as a new Turkish military intervention in Syria remains a possibility.
The summit with Vladimir Putin comes in the same week that a ship carrying Ukraine grain was able to set sail, the first since the conflict began, under an agreement between the warring sides arranged by the United Nations and Ankara.
The Turkish leader’s international credentials have been bolstered by the agreement that resumes exports of Ukrainian and Russian agricultural products, easing the threat to global food security.
Erdogan’s trip – his eighth to Russia since the start of 2019 – follows a three-way meeting with Putin and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in Tehran last month.
“By virtue of its role in the grain deal, Turkey has succeeded in positioning itself as Russia’s diplomatic conduit to the international community,” said Eyup Ersoy, visiting research fellow at the Institute of Middle Eastern Studies, King’s College London.
“This diplomatic rearrangement has shifted the relational asymmetry more in Turkey’s favour and is expected to curtail, to some degree, Russian resistance against Turkish policies and initiatives in issues of common concern.”
Analysts said Turkey’s principal focus would be Moscow’s acquiescence – or at least its lack of opposition – to a Turkish military operation in northern Syria.
The Syrian group is linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has waged a 38-year armed uprising against Turkey. The PKK is considered a “terror” group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.
Ankara has launched four cross-border operations into Syria since 2016 and controls land in the north with the goal of pushing away the YPG and establishing a 30-km (19-mile) secure zone.
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