The Turkish leader has become the main mediator in the peace talks between Moscow and Kiev
The Russian and Turkish presidents, Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, have never been able to fully agree on such thorny issues as Ukraine, Syria or Nagorno-Karabakh, but on certain related aspects. The most recent is the agreement signed in Istanbul on July 22 for the export of Ukrainian grain – which saw three more cargo ships departed this Friday, four since August 1, and has been reached precisely with the mediation of the Turkish leader.
And it is that Erdogan seems committed to the idea of not throwing in the towel and continuing to try to agree with Putin on many other aspects. Another attempt to bring positions closer took place this Friday in the Russian spa town of Sochi, on the Black Sea coast.
“With your direct participation and through the mediation of the United Nations Secretariat, the problem with the supply of Ukrainian grain from the ports on the Black Sea has been solved. Stocks have already started,” Putin acknowledged Erdogan. He has responded by stating that “the eyes of the world are on Sochi today (…) to dispel any doubts the international community might have”.
The last time the two presidents met was in Tehran on July 19, just on the eve of the agreement to unblock Ukrainian grain exports. According to the Kremlin press service, Putin and Erdogan have continued to address the issue of grain transfers in order to consolidate and stabilize them so that the agreement can be extended once it expires in 120 days.
This has been expressed by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who on Thursday emphasized that the Istanbul agreement should last longer than the four months of its previously established validity. “We hope that the security guarantees of our UN partners and Turkey will continue to work and that food exports from our ports will become stable and predictable for all market participants,” said Ukraine’s Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov.
According to Cavusoglu, quoted by Turkey’s Anatolia agency, what has already been achieved through diplomatic channels with grains could be the starting point for “an exhaustive ceasefire” preceding the final end of hostilities in Ukraine. But Cavusoglu admitted the situation is now “fragile as the war continues” and could even disrupt grain exports. Turkey believes there will be no peace without Russia’s approval. “The international community cannot end the war in Ukraine by ignoring Russia,” warns Fahrettin Altun, one of Erdogan’s top advisers.
Putin and Erdogan have also discussed “joint strategic projects”, bilateral cooperation, increasing trade volume, which some have interpreted as a request for Ankara’s help in evading Western sanctions, and the construction by Russian specialists of the Turkey’s first nuclear power plant in Akkuyu.
Syria was another main topic of the summit. Turkey threatens to launch a military offensive against the Kurds in the north of the country with the aim of establishing a “security zone” of 30 kilometers from the border and inland. Moscow has asked Ankara to give up such an idea. Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov has said that “Turkey has legitimate security concerns regarding Syria” but has urged not to endanger “the territorial integrity and political stability” of the Arab country. Putin and Erdogan have again announced that their respective countries will fight the existing terrorist groups in Syria.
The unusual outbreak of violence in Nagorno-Karabakh this week has also left a gap in the negotiations. Russia’s foreign ministry issued a statement on Thursday calling for “moderation” and respect for the ceasefire. Russia has deployed peacekeepers to a sector of Nagorno-Karabakh. Turkish ally Azerbaijan said on Wednesday it had taken control of several positions and destroyed Armenian targets in an offensive that left at least three dead.
Turkey, which is helping Kiev militarily with drones and other weapons, condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine from the outset, but did not join the sanctions against Russia. Ankara has become the main mediator in organizing the peace talks between Moscow and Kiev.
Source: La Verdad