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For the first time since the invasion of Ukraine, Putin will visit a NATO country

Turkish Foreign Minister confirms Putin will visit Turkey

G e N Iuvinale

On February 4, local time, Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan confirmed that Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit Turkey to discuss bilateral and international issues.

Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan

In an interview with Turkish media, Fidan confirmed that Putin would visit, but did not reveal the date of the visit.

Sputnik and other media previously reported that Putin may visit Turkey on February 12, citing Turkish sources. Russian presidential aide Yuri Ushakov told Sputnik late last month that Putin will visit Turkey in February to meet Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Fidan said that Putin's visit to Turkey will discuss a number of topics, including energy cooperation between the two countries, including nuclear energy, a new round of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Russia-Ukraine agricultural exports in the Black Sea and the Syrian question.

This will be Putin's first visit to a NATO member state since the Ukrainian crisis escalated in February 2022. Turkey has a discordant relationship with the United States and other NATO member states. It once had a stalemate with NATO over the purchase of Russian air defense missile systems and was expelled from the F-35 fighter jet cooperation project by the United States. At the same time, Turkey communicates and coordinates with Russia on matters such as the Syrian issue and the Ukraine crisis. Putin and Erdogan have spoken on the phone many times and held talks in the Russian Black Sea city of Sochi in September last year.

Russia and Ukraine signed relevant agreements with Turkey and the United Nations respectively in Istanbul, Turkey in July 2022 on the export of agricultural products to Black Sea ports. This agreement has been extended multiple times. In July last year, Russia announced that it would not extend the agreement on the grounds that the content of the agreement to ensure the export of Russian products had not been implemented.

According to the Russian Satellite News Agency, Russian Presidential Assistant for International Affairs Ushakov said on January 29 that Russian President Putin will visit Turkey in February and that preparations for this visit are underway.

Although the precise schedule of Putin's trip to Turkey has not yet been officially announced, given that it will be Putin's first visit to a NATO member state since the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine conflict two years ago, all parties have obviously given a high priority to this. focus on.

Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan said in an interview with local media on Sunday that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to meet Putin, mainly to discuss energy cooperation and Syrian security issues. According to the Interfax news agency, Ushakov said last week that the Russian-Ukrainian conflict was likely to be a central issue.

In fact, if Putin's visit to Turkey finally takes shape, it will obviously overcome a lot of resistance. According to media reports quoted by Reference News Network last week, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Putin in March last year on suspicion of expelling and transferring Ukrainian children to Russia. Since then, Putin's overseas visits have been restricted.

Russia denied the accusation, calling the move outrageous and saying it was invalid because it is not a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

According to reports, Turkey is not a party to the Rome Statute, so Putin can travel to Turkey without fear of being arrested on an ICC arrest warrant.

Black Sea grain transportation initiative

Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan said on Sunday that the situation regarding the Black Sea Food Initiative will be one of the topics discussed during Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to Turkey. Erdogan and Putin are expected to discuss a new mechanism to allow Ukraine to export grain across the Black Sea.

Fidan said efforts were being made to find "new ways" to transport Ukrainian grain to global markets.

Erdogan has spent the past two years trying to mediate between the warring Russian and Ukrainian sides and has tried to push for the resumption of a U.N.-backed Black Sea food transport initiative that he helped orchestrate in 2022 and that it would allow Ukraine to pass through the Black Sea. Sea, export of grain. Russia withdrew from the initiative in July 2023.

Erdogan is urging world leaders to meet some of Russia's demands, including pushing Lloyd's of London to insure Russian grain and fertilizer exports and reconnecting Russia to the SWIFT international payments system, in a bid to persuade Putin to return to the deal.

Fidan said, "The food corridor initiative is always on our agenda. Putin and President Erdogan will definitely discuss this issue. This is an issue we are already negotiating with Russia. In particular, with the United Nations, Russia, Ukraine and Turkey is negotiating for the axis. We are talking about how to use the transport logistics routes of the Black Sea and looking at new ways of transporting grain to world markets."

He also said, "It is now clear that it is possible to establish a mechanism different from that in the past. It is now necessary to concretize this possibility."

Russia and Ukraine are both major grain producers in the world, and the protracted Russia-Ukraine conflict over the past two years has increasingly threatened the security of Ukraine's grain exports.

The situation in the Middle East

In addition to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine and the issue of Ukrainian grain exports, the tense situation in the Middle East in recent months is undoubtedly a key issue during Putin's trip. In this regard, Fidan said that Russia's position on the situation in Gaza is "more similar" to that of Turkey.

Fidan said: "As everyone knows, Russia's position on the Gaza war is more similar to ours. Russia's position is to end the war as soon as possible, start humanitarian assistance and resolve problems between the two countries, which is consistent with our position."

Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov had previously said that the conflict between Palestine and Israel must be stopped immediately and called for a ceasefire and an end to the war. Lavrov also said that the way out to resolve the Palestinian issue lies in the implementation of the "two-state solution" based on UN Security Council resolutions.

Cooperation between the two countries

In recent years, Russia has sought closer energy, political and economic ties with Turkey after relations with the European Union deteriorated sharply due to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Turkey, in turn, has gained more benefits from increased cooperation between the two countries.

While supplying combat drones to the Ukrainian military, Turkey has refused to adhere to Western financial sanctions against Russia, which is a major energy supplier for Turkey.

Russia accounts for a quarter of Turkey's crude oil imports and about 40 percent of its natural gas purchases, giving Moscow a large surplus in bilateral trade.

Turkey, in turn, has sought greater rebates and deferred payments on energy imports from Russia to ease pressure on the lira amid a severe cost-of-living crisis.

The gas agreement

The two countries are currently trying to reach an agreement on a planned gas hub in Turkey. Last year, Putin floated plans to create a gas trading hub in Turkey, including the possibility of laying more undersea gas pipelines in the Black Sea. Erdogan hopes to exploit Turkey's proximity to Caspian gas fields and possibly become an important route for gas supplies to Europe.

The nuclear power

Turkey and Russia are also working together to build the Akkuyu nuclear power plant in southern Turkey, with a budget of about $20 billion.

Fidan said: "The main topic will be the natural gas issue, and our cooperation in the energy field will be at the forefront. And of course the construction of the Akkuyu nuclear power plant, a major bilateral project."

Speaking about the Akkuyu nuclear power plant, Fidan said: “We are talking about a huge complex of almost 5 gigawatts. The designed power generation capacity of the Akkuyu nuclear power plant is 4.8 gigawatts. For a country like Turkey whose national income comes mainly from industry, Providing low-cost energy is a very strategic issue for the country."

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