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Putin and Erdogan meet in Sochi, hold talks on nuclear power and new grain corridor

Russian President Vladimir Putin with Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Sochi on Monday (Image courtesy: Kremlin.ru)

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday held detailed negotiations with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the creation of a gas hub in Turkey in order to make the energy situation in the region “more stable and balanced”.

Erdogan arrived in Sochi on a one-day visit at the invitation of Putin with both leaders having a meeting in the format of a working breakfast.

Coming against the backdrop of ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine – and termination of the United Nations-backed Black Sea Grain Initiative – the two countries are expected to come out with a formula at the end of the day to facilitate unimpeded exports of food and fertilizer to the world markets, in particular the starving countries of Africa.

Much before that, the two leaders and members of their delegations held in-depth talks on joint strategic projects, primarily in energy, including the construction of Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plants (NPP).

Akkuyu NPP is the first-ever nuclear power plant in Turkey and is being built by Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation Rosatom. The project includes four power units equipped with Generation 3+ VVER reactors of Russian design. The capacity of each NPP power unit will be 1200 MW.

“Next year – everything is going according to plan – we will launch the first unit. There are interesting possible options for continuing our cooperation. Now a very large qualified team continues to work at the station – about 25,000 people,” Putin said on Monday.

Energy is traditionally seen as a driver of relations between the two countries with Moscow reaffirming its commitment to all agreements on boosting exports of natural gas, including via creation of an integrated gas distribution hub in Turkey.

“The step taken regarding the first unit is very good. Moreover, as we have discussed with you before, we have also taken a step regarding the construction of a new nuclear power plant in Sinop. I think it will be possible for us to do so. Of course, the fact that there will be a ‘hub’ in Thrace is another element of richness and vitality,” said Erdogan.

Putin stated that he is open to negotiations on the grain deal which was discontinued on July 18. The United Nations-backed initiative between Russia, Ukraine and Turkey allowed significant volumes of exports with the Ukrainian pilot vessels guiding the ships through the Black Sea, after which they headed out through the Bosphorus Strait, passing Istanbul, along an agreed corridor.

Russia has maintained that as soon as measures are taken not just regarding the talks about the Russian part of the Black Sea Package but regarding the resolution of all holdover issues, it will be ready to resume the Ukrainian part of the grain package on that very day.

Moscow has been planning to to supply up to 1 million tonnes of Russian grain to Turkey at reduced prices for subsequent processing at Turkish plants and shipping it further to the countries most in need. This matter is being discussed with the participation of Qatar, which according to Moscow, is willing to take part in the financial aspects of the new initiative.

Also Read: Russia seeks Turkey’s help for sending food to Africa amid Ukraine war