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Putin, Erdogan to hold first phone conversation since late June

The Kremlin did not announce the subject of the upcoming talks

MOSCOW, August 2. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to hold a phone conversation with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday.

It will be their first phone conversation after a number of major events, including the termination of the grain deal and Ankara’s decision to transfer leaders of the Azov nationalist battalion (deemed a terrorist organization and outlawed in Russia) to Ukraine.

The Russian leader first announced his plans to talk to Erdogan by phone on July 29, during a media briefing to sum up the results of the Russia-Africa summit. According to the Russian president, the two leaders were planning to talk to each other at an earlier date, but failed to find a convenient time, eventually setting the conversation for August 2.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed the plans on Monday.

The previous phone conversation between the leaders of Russia and Turkey took place on June 24, when Putin informed his Turkish counterpart about the situation in his country in connection with an attempted mutiny. Overall, Putin and Erdogan have already had nine phone conversations this year. In April, they jointly participated via a video linkup in a ceremony to load nuclear fuel into the Akkuyu nuclear power plant that Russia is building in Turkey.

Their latest in-person meeting took place in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana in October 2022.

Topics to discuss

The Kremlin did not announce the subject of the upcoming talks. However, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin said on July 21 that the two presidents plan to discuss during their future conversations measures to ensure safe navigation in the Black Sea.

Meanwhile, Ankara says that the possibility of resuming the Black Sea grain transportation deal will be in the spotlight during the talks. Earlier, Erdogan described the agreement as a chance to avert a "food crisis, whose consequences will be far more severe in the wake of the pandemic and economic crisis."

At the same time, Turkish officials have repeatedly pointed out that Russia’s demands to lift restrictions that prevented Russian food and fertilizer exports were justified.

The grain deal ended on July 17. Last week, speaking at the plenary session of the Russia-Africa forum, Putin said that Russia had originally agreed to participate in the deal on the condition that its terms to remove illegitimate obstacles to the supply of grain and fertilizers from Russia to world markets would be observed. But none of these conditions was met. Now, according to Putin, Russia will follow the principle: "First, you fulfill, and then we will return to this deal."

The initiative to build a gas hub on the territory of Turkey is also expected to be discussed. In October 2022, Putin proposed creating the largest gas hub in Europe in Turkey and redirecting the volume of gas, the transit of which is no longer possible through the Nord Stream, to this hub. On July 29, Putin said that the issue remains on the agenda. According to him, the project involves the creation of an electronic trading platform for gas supplies to Europe, given the growing role of Turkey as a gas transit country to the continent. Turkish Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Alparslan Bayraktar said the project will allow to ensure the security of energy supplies to Europe and help to resolve regional conflicts.

Apart from that, Putin and Erdogan may discuss Turkey’s purchase of Russian-made BE-200ChS amphibious aircraft amid wildfires in the country. Two such aircraft departed from Russia to Turkey in mid-July to assist in the firefighting effort.