Putin and Erdogan meet to discuss grain deal amid ‘shifting power balance’
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met in Istanbul, Turkey, on Monday to discuss forging closer economic ties between their two countries. Discussions reportedly focused on a grain-trading deal between the two countries. The meeting marks the first in-person summit between the two leaders since January 2020, when Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet near the Syrian-Turkish border. Tensions between the two countries have since decreased somewhat. The grain deal would increase the amount of grain traded between the two countries, increasing both Turkey’s food security and Russia’s agricultural exports. Grain exports to Turkey are a key component of Russia’s agricultural exports, which are the country’s second-largest export after oil and natural gas. The meeting of the two leaders also reflects a shift in power dynamics in the region. Over the past year, Turkey has become increasingly assertive in international relations, particularly in the Eastern Mediterranean, where Turkey and Greece are vying for control and resources. Putin and Erdogan are likely to discuss how to further strengthen ties so as to give each other greater influence in the region. The meeting is expected to touch upon other issues, including Turkey’s purchase of Russia’s S-400 air defense missile system, which the U.S. has strongly opposed, and increased cooperation in the fields of energy, infrastructure and finance. The meeting between the two leaders follows the recent release of a joint statement from the so-called “Astana Three” countries—Russia, Turkey and Iran—pledging to support Syria’s territorial integrity and find a peaceful solution to the conflict there.