The head of the country which comprises NATO's second largest military is planning a trip to Russia to meet with President Vladimir Putin.
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made the announcement Monday, and teased potential progress for reestablishing the critical Black Sea grain deal, despite ongoing international tensions over Russia bombing Ukraine ports, which has been strongly condemned by the West.
"President Erdo?an has so far led an intense diplomacy in order to help prevent a global food crisis," ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) spokesman Ömer Çelik said in announcing the upcoming trip,
The meeting will be held as soon as next week, with Bloomberg reporting a date of Sept.8 - prior to Erdogan going on to India for the G20. The Turks as well as Russian media confirmed it will be hosted in Sochi. But it could happen early next week, with TASS mentioning September 4 as a possible date, citing diplomatic sources.
"Turkish news reports said Erdogan planned to bring up the issue of renewing the grain deal during the potential talks with his Russian counterpart," TASS wrote. "Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov previously said that the meeting between the two leaders would take place shortly, but he did not name any specific dates."
Since the Black Sea Grain Deal Initiative expired on July 17, and as Moscow pulled out (by not renewing it), global food prices have risen. Meanwhile Ukraine has with Western backing sought to establish an alternate export route by using the maritime territory of Romania and Bulgaria.
Within NATO, Erdogan has not been as vociferous in condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine compared to other leaders, instead playing more of an intermediary role, keeping diplomacy open. Prior to its collapse, Turkey touted the grain deal as its greatest achievement toward peace and dialogue related to the Ukraine war.
The West will be watching Erdogan's actions closely, and likely some officials will condemn the Turkish leader's trip to Russia outright, after China's Xi was recently another major leader to visit Russia during the war.
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