Within just a few weeks, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan have met in person for the second time. Putin receives Erdogan today in the Russian seaside resort of Sochi. The exchange is scheduled to begin around 2 p.m. CEST.
The meeting is a summit of two statesmen who know they need each other. Although Erdogan has criticized the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Turkey has not joined the sanctions imposed by the West. Like large parts of western European countries, Turkey is also dependent on Putin's gas supplies. The TurkStream and Blue Stream pipelines terminate here.
As Amur Gadgiyev, director of the Center for Studies of Modern Turkey in Moscow, said on "tagesschau.de", Turkey also jumps in when there are goods and delivery bottlenecks in Russia that have arisen there after Western companies have withdrawn. In June 2022, Turkey had imported goods worth 5.1 billion US dollars from Russia, more than from any other country. Compared to the same month last year, imports have more than doubled. In addition, Russians form the main vacationer group in Turkey. The Russian power plant builder Rosatom is also building the country's first nuclear power plant in southern Turkey.
However, the two most important areas where the central interests of both nations meet are the issues of Syria and arms exports. Turkey has long wanted to take action against the Kurdish fighters in northern Syria. Together with Arab Islamists, Turkish troops have occupied areas there since 2018. Erdogan only announced in May that he wanted to completely smash Syria's Kurdish autonomous region. So far, Russia, as the protecting power of Syria's ruler Assad, has opposed all Turkish offensive plans.
Relations with arms exports are far more flexible. Shortly after the start of the Russian attack on Ukraine, Erdogan said he would not rule out arms deals with Moscow. An attitude that has earned the Turkish head of state a lot of criticism from Western allies. After all, Turkey is a NATO member. Nevertheless, that did not stop Erdogan from acquiring the Russian S-400 missile defense system in 2017.
This time, however, a Turkish weapon system is in the spotlight: the Bayraktar TB2 combat drone, which the Ukrainian army is currently using with great success against Russian troops. The weapon system is considered an export hit. According to the broadcaster CNN Türk, Putin suggested working together with Turkey on the Baykar company's drones. A corresponding factory could be founded in the United Arab Emirates. The Emirates would have offered that.
However, the company wants nothing to do with it. No drones were delivered to Russia and "never will," Baykar chairman Haluk Bayraktar told CNN international. "We support Ukraine!"
Turkey traditionally maintains close ties with both Ukraine and Russia and sees itself as a mediator between the two parties. Under Turkish mediation, an agreement was recently signed that is intended to enable grain exports from three ports in Ukraine. Former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder expressly praised Erdogan's mediation efforts in a stern interview. "But it won't work without a yes from Washington," said Schröder, limiting hopes for a negotiated solution to the Ukraine war, with a view to the US government's stance.