September 28, 2022
  • September 28, 2022

Factbox: Putin and Erdogan’s contacts underscore complex Russia-Turkey ties

By on August 5, 2022 0

Aug 5 (Reuters) – Vladimir Putin and Tayyip Erdogan are meeting on Friday for the second time in just over two weeks, after Turkey helped broker a deal to resume Ukraine’s Black Sea grain exports, blocked by the Russian invasion.

Supporters of President Erdogan say the deal, which could curb soaring global food prices, underlines the importance of NATO member Turkey’s diplomatic contacts with both sides. Read more

Although Turkey criticized the Russian invasion and supplied arms to Ukraine, it broke with Western allies by not imposing sanctions on Russia.

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This careful balance reflects the complexity of its relationship with Russia, ranging from close cooperation on energy supplies to military competition in Syria, Libya and Azerbaijan.

UKRAINE

Days after President Putin and Erdogan met in Tehran last month, Turkey oversaw a deal to resume Ukrainian grain exports.

Under the agreement, Turkey hosts a joint center where Russian, Ukrainian, Turkish and United Nations representatives will work to ensure the safe transit of Ukrainian exports to world markets. Read more

Turkey depends heavily on Russia and Ukraine for grain. Russia accounted for 56% of Turkey’s grain imports in 2021 at $2.24 billion, while imports from Ukraine amounted to $861 million

ARMS SALES

Turkish Bayraktar drones sold to Ukraine played a prominent role in slowing the advance of Russian forces when they entered Ukrainian territory in February. Read more

But Turkey also has growing defense ties with Russia.

He bought Russian S-400 missile defense batteries in 2019 and suggested he might buy more, angering Washington which canceled sales of US F-35 fighter jets and sanctioned defense industries Turkish. Read more

Erdogan said last year that Turkey was considering other joint defense industry measures with Russia, including for fighter jets and submarines. Read more

RIVALS IN THE WAR

In Syria, Turkey backs fighters who once seemed poised to topple President Bashar al-Assad, until Russian intervention bolstered the Syrian leader and helped repel insurgents in a small northwest pocket from Syria to the Turkish border.

In February 2020, when an airstrike killed at least 34 Turkish soldiers, Turkey sent reinforcements to the northwest region of Idlib to block advances by Russian-backed Syrian government forces that had displaced 1 million people.

Erdogan says Turkey is planning another incursion into northern Syria targeting areas controlled by Syrian Kurdish YPG fighters, drawing criticism from Russia, Iran and the United States. Read more

In Libya, Turkey’s military intervention repelled an assault on the internationally recognized government in Tripoli by eastern-based forces which were backed – according to UN experts – by fighters from Russia’s Wagner Group.

In Azerbaijan, Turkey has backed a military assault to drive out ethnic Armenian forces from much of the mountainous Nagorno-Karabakh enclave in the southern Caucasus – an area Russia considers part of its sphere of power. ‘influence.

ENERGY

Russian natural gas accounted for 45% of import-dependent Turkey’s gas purchases last year, which hit a record high due to drought and a related increase in power generation at gas basis.

Russian nuclear conglomerate Rosatom is also building a nuclear power plant in Akkuyu, southern Turkey, which Putin says will start operating next year.

The plant is expected to supply up to 10% of Turkey’s energy needs and will continue to be operated and managed by Rosatom for several decades.

TOURISM

Seven million Russian tourists visited Turkey in 2019, the most of any country, before the coronavirus pandemic dramatically curtailed outbound travel. Tourism remains an important source of hard currency for the Turkish economy.

PERSONAL CHEMISTRY

Putin and Erdogan have run their country for two decades on a rollercoaster ride.

In 2015, the Turkish military shot down a Russian plane flying through Turkish airspace, causing a crisis in relations. But less than a year later, Putin was one of the first world leaders to voice his support for Erdogan when he survived a coup attempt, laying the foundation for their growing defense ties.

However, both were delayed in summit meetings, which sparked media speculation of one-upmanship. Erdogan was left on hold for two minutes by Putin in 2020, only to have the tables turned in Tehran last month.

“Was it revenge? Turkish website T24 asked in a headline.

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Reporting by Dominic Evans; Editing by Christina Fincher

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