Putin, Erdogan meet in Sochi, discuss Ukraine war and grain deal
The Kremlin Spokesperson says Monday's summit between the Russian President and his Turkish counterpart had been "very constructive".
Russian President Vladimir Putin pointed out on Monday that relations between Russia and Turkey are developing successfully in all directions.
After his meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the Russian city of Sochi, Putin told a press conference that "the cooperation between Russia and Turkey, which is based on the principles of good neighborliness, partnership and mutual benefit, is successfully developing in all areas."
"Today's talks, as always, were held in a constructive and businesslike atmosphere," he affirmed.
The Russian leader highlighted that Russia and Turkey have been increasingly using their national currencies for mutual transactions.
"There is a growing trend toward the use of national currencies — the ruble and the lira — in commercial exchanges, while the share of the dollar- and euro-denominated mutual transactions has been steadily decreasing," he said.
Putin added that the central banks of the two countries have been working closely together to build out a correspondent banking network between national financial institutions and lenders.
He also praised the growing trade between the two countries. It was up 86% at the end of 2022 compared to the previous year and added another 4% in the first half of 2023.
Russia reliable and responsible ga supplier: Putin
The Russian President stressed that his country has been and will remain a reliable and responsible gas supplier.
"I would like to emphasize that Russia has always been and will continue to be a reliable, responsible supplier of gas. We intend to continue to provide the Turkish economy with this cheap, but highly efficient and environmentally friendly type of fuel," he affirmed.
"Moreover, we are ready to export gas in transit through Turkey to consumers in third countries, where partners are interested in this," he added.
In a related context, Erdogan said he and Putin had discussed the construction of a new nuclear power plant in Sinop.
"The work at Akkuyu (NPP) is ongoing, and today we discussed the construction of a nuclear power plant in Sinop as a second step. Turkey will make a leap forward thanks to these steps," the Turkish President mentioned.
Putin expressed Russia's readiness to fully meet Turkey's grain needs, saying, "Turkey is our great partner. Turkey has a large flour-milling processing industry, we know this and we will fully meet the needs of the Turkish Republic."
He also noted that Russia’s negotiations with six African countries regarding the supply of grain are almost completed.
"We are close to completing agreements with six African countries, where we intend to supply food for free, and even carry out delivery, logistics for free, deliver this cargo," he indicated.
West continues to block fulfillment of grain deal: Putin
The Russian leader mentioned that he and his Turkish counterpart discussed the grain deal and the conflict in Ukraine, among other issues.
Touching on the matter, Putin said while Russia has been engaged in ensuring safety at grain corridors, the other side, Ukraine, used them for terrorist attacks.
"While Russia clearly provided security guarantees for shipping under this [grain] deal, the other side used humanitarian corridors for terrorist attacks against Russian civilian and military facilities," he said.
Regarding the grain deal, Putin said the West continues to block the fulfillment of the part of the deal that stipulates obligations concerning Russia, adding that the other side deceived Moscow about the humanitarian nature of the agreement.
Nonetheless, Russia intends to continue exporting food and fertilizers, as well as to help stabilize prices and improve the situation in the global agricultural sector, Putin underscored.
He also made it clear that Moscow would be ready to revive the grain deal immediately after the fulfillment of part of the grain deal obligations concerning Russia.
"I would like to reiterate our principled position, we will be ready to consider the possibility of reviving the grain deal. I told the president about it again today. And we will do it as soon as all the agreements in the deal are fully implemented," he said.
In the same context, Putin considered that Russia's withdrawal from the grain deal has not affected the global food markets, as grain prices are declining, and there is no evidence of food shortage.
"It is obvious that the termination of the implementation of the deal has not affected global food markets," Putin said.
Russia initially agreed to participate in the grain deal after a number of obligations toward the country were promised to be fulfilled, but nothing happened, he noted.
He indicated that Western countries lied to Russia when it came to the implementation of the grain deal obligations, adding that food corridors should not have been used for military purposes but are currently being used for that by Ukraine.
On his part, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey hopes that the new package of proposals on the grain deal could contribute to its revival.
Erdogan indicated that the grain deal played a "great role" in preventing a food crisis, adding that he considers Moscow’s expectations of the initiative to be "fair".
"We have prepared a new package of proposals following consultations with the UN. We are confident that we can achieve the desired result with this new package and resume the initiative as soon as possible," he told a press conference.
The Turkish leader expressed Turkey's readiness to assist in the processing of Russian grain for its further shipment to countries in need and hopes to jointly implement steps with Russia to deliver food to African countries.
"At our talks today with Mr. Putin, he said that Moscow is ready to send 1 million tonnes of grain to countries in need. We are also ready to do our part. We said that we could grind this grain and send it to poor African countries in the form of flour. We hope to work together on this issue," he said.
Ankara ready to mediate between Moscow and Kiev: Erdogan
Erdogan said Ankara is ready to mediate between Moscow and Kiev.
"We are determined to lead efforts to bring stability to our region... We have hosted talks in our country between the parties to the conflict in Ukraine. We are again ready to assume the function of an intermediary," he said.
On his part, Putin underlined that Russia has never refused negotiations on the Ukraine conflict and is not refusing them now. He mentioned that his Turkish counterpart has focused a lot of his attention on solving the conflict, but Kiev, according to him, threw "to the garbage" agreements reached through Turkey’s mediation in the past.
The Turkish President mentioned that he had discussed the situation in Africa and the Caucasus with his Russian counterpart.
"As part of the discussions, we touched upon the situation in Syria, Transcaucasia, Africa, including the latest developments of the situation in Libya," Erdogan said, adding that close relations between Ankara and Moscow will help solve regional problems.
Syria's future should be determined by Syrians away from external pressure: Putin
Touching on the matter, Putin stressed that the future of Syria should be determined solely by its citizens, without any external pressure.
"It is important that we [Russia and Turkey] share the same basic approaches to solving the Syrian crisis, such as respect for the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of this country," he said.
He continued, "We understand that to launch a full-scale restoration of the country, national reconciliation and consent must be achieved, and we believe that Syrians should determine the future of Syria on their own, without any ready-made models imposed from outside."
Putin, Erdogan summit 'very constructive': Kremlin
Elsewhere, Putin indicated that the exchange of views between Russia and Turkey has been "quite useful".
"In general, I think that the exchange of views on the mentioned and other regional issues was quite useful. And in conclusion, I would like to once again express gratitude for the joint work, for the meaningful and productive dialogue," he concluded.
Similarly, Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Monday's summit between Putin and Erdogan had been "very constructive".
"[It was] very constructive," Peskov told reporters on the sidelines of the in-person talks in Sochi.
The Russian diplomat noted that the two presidents had been briefed by ministers and working group leaders.
"[They conducted] a comprehensive exchange of information, synchronization … a comprehensive analysis of the bilateral relationship," he added.