MOSCOW, September 4. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin will on Monday travel to Sochi for talks with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov and the Kremlin press service told reporters.
The Russian leader said earlier that he and the Turkish president had reached such an agreement ahead of the presidential and parliamentary elections in Turkey but that a decision had been made to postpone the meeting so that it doesn’t look like an attempt to influence the voting results.
Despite the fact that Putin and Erdogan regularly keep in touch, the coming talks in Sochi will be the two leaders’ first in-person meeting since Russia’s exit from the Black Sea Initiative.
Erdogan’s trip to Sochi will allow the two leaders to clear up problems in their relationship which has become somewhat tense of late. Moreover, both sides have shown some discontent. Turkish analysts acknowledge that Moscow is not feeling upbeat as it watches the warming between Ankara and Washington, nor is it satisfied with Turkey’s recent move to release commanders of the Azov battalion (outlawed in Russia) back to the custody of Ukraine and the support it has voiced for Kiev in the current conflict. In turn, Turkey got very upset by the collapse of the grain deal it has brokered and the fact that its parliamentary efforts toward solving the Ukraine crisis have so far failed to yield at least intermediate results. And Erdogan does need results, as, after Sochi, he will go to the G20 summit to India and then attend the UN General Assembly meeting in New York, and he needs strong positions.
According to Peskov, talks are scheduled to take place in the middle of the day on Monday. "There are plans to discuss efforts to further develop the mutually advantageous bilateral cooperation as well as pressing international issues," the Kremlin press service said.
Putin and Erdogan are expected to mostly focus on ways to resolve the Ukraine conflict and the grain deal. Turkey has been seeking ways to have Russia return to the grain initiative as it says it has developed fresh proposals jointly with the United Nations. Erdogan will lay out these proposals to Putin and he is likely to pass messages from his allies. He will try to persuade the Russian leader to consider reviving the original deal, but there are small chances he will succeed as Russia has taken a principled position in this regard, insisting that there be clear guarantees rather than promises.
Apart from Ukraine, the two leaders will also discuss Syria. Russia has been working toward bringing the relations between Ankara and Damascus back to normal. However, more efforts are needed here for Erdogan to finally meet with Syrian leader Bashar Assad.