Erdogan and Putin meet in Astana: peace with Ukraine and negotiation over gas discussed

Elizabeth Smith

On October 13 the bilateral summit. Moscow announces: ‘Turks offer their mediation’. The issues: the ceasefire, yes to some Russian annexations, buffer zones and negotiations extended to the US and Europeans.

Erdogan meets Putin: war in Ukraine and gas crisis addressed

Today in the Kazakh capital Astana, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will present Vladimir Putin with a concrete proposal to mediate an end to hostilities in Ukraine.

“The Turks offer their mediation. If talks between Russia and Ukraine ever take place, they will take place on their territory: in Istanbul or Ankara,” said Kremlin foreign policy advisor Jurij Ushakov. “Erdogan will probably propose something official,” he added, specifying that he expected a “very interesting and useful discussion”.

This gives further impetus to the strengthening of Russian-Turkish economic cooperation‘, he commented. This, on the same day that Putin and Gazprom’s CEO Aleksej Miller proposed creating a gas hub in Turkey for the West.

Erdogan-Putin meeting: the Turkish mediation

A NATO member, dependent on Russian gas and oil, Turkey has tried to maintain relations with both Kiev and Moscow even after 24 February. Erdogan has met Putin three times in the past three months and speaks regularly with Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky.

On the strength of his equidistant position, he has already mediated the September prisoner exchange, facilitated the agreement on the grain export across the Black Sea, and hosted Russian and Ukrainian negotiators in Istanbul. The talks failed, but had led to the first real and only draft agreement between the two countries. “Unfortunately, both sides have quickly moved away from diplomacy,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu had said on Tuesday. “A ceasefire must be established as soon as possible.”

According to Russian sources, the Turkish proposal would include a freeze of hostilities, the recognition of part of the territories annexed by Moscow and the creation of a buffer zone.

So far, it has been the Asian countries that have been at the forefront of mediation. Not only Turkey, but also Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Indonesia itself, ‘which has shown firmness and diplomatic flexibility in preparing for the G20’. Where, by the way, a bilateral between Putin and Joe Biden could be held.

Russian optimism about the meeting

Until now, Putin had always rejected Erdogan’s previous offers of mediation with Ukrainian leader Zelensky. But this time, according to various indiscretions in the Turkish and Russian press, Erdogan would like to promote expanded talks with the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, and France.

Enlargement, moreover, expressly requested by Putin, according to his former advisor Serghej Markov. “The Turkish leader has finally understood, […] for Moscow, Ukraine does not exist, President Zelensky does not exist. As Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban noted on Tuesday, ‘a ceasefire cannot be realised between Russia and Ukraine, but only between America and Russia‘.

Now even Erdogan argues that the US, the British, the Germans, and the French must sit down at the table with the Russians. That is what Putin wants’. Zelensky, for his part, also claims that he has nothing to negotiate with Putin.

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