Turkey and Russia are in discussions yet again as Turkis President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin discuss the future of the two nations.

Both leaders met at Putin’s Sochi residence last Friday and had reportedly spoken for at least four hours. During their meeting, it was believed that Putin covered their ongoing trade deals to ensure they could resume their operations across the Black Sea. However, military expert Igor Korotchenko said this was Putin giving Erdoğan a stern warning not to interfere with Russia’s next moves because “Russia holds the keys to Erdoğan’s re-election next year.”

The deal ended the standoff on the global food crisis caused by the Ukraine-Russia war. As of writing, three more ships with 60,000 tonnes of grain bound to Ukrain, Ireland, and Turkey had departed the Ukrainian Black Sea ports last Friday.

Vladimir Putin
Video message on the occasion of the start of the final stage of the X All-Russian Festival of the Night Hockey League in Sochi. (Source: The Presidential Press and Information Office/Wikimedia)

“This is a very pressing problem for many countries, first and foremost, the developing ones that are on the brink of big problems with food and fertiliser supply. The decisions made with your direct participation are very important for all these countries,” Putin told Erdoğan as their closed-door meetings began.

Though on the outside, it looks like Putin and Erdoğan had “ulterior motives” during the discussion. This is what’s keeping the EU on its toes, watching how the two nations will interact in the next coming weeks. Six western officials spoke with Financial Times and said they are deeply concerned about the possibility of these leaders cooperating outside trade deals. There’s also speculation that Russia could move its investments in Turkey to finance various sectors as a way for them to “legally avoid” sanctions imposed by the West.

Another senior western official implied the possibility of companies and banks getting pulled out of Turkey if Erdoğan pushes through with any form of cooperation with Russia outside the “food deal.” But, the challenge is NATO’s potential restriction on Turkey if they ever go out of line.

“For example, they could ask for restrictions on trade finance or ask the large financial companies to reduce finance to Turkish companies,” one official said. “I would not rule out any negative actions [if] Turkey gets too close to Russia,” he added.

After the meeting, Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said Turkey has agreed to pay for Russia’s gas and that both leaders want to expand their banking ties in roubles and lira. Even Erdoğan confirmed that they’d made progress pertaining to the country’s financial state, saying they achieved “very serious developments” during his meeting with Putin.