Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met in Moscow on Thursday to discuss a potential grain import deal, amid what observers say is a shifting power balance in the region.
The two leaders discussed the potential to strengthen bilateral ties both commercially and politically, as well as the potential for the development of a long-term grain import agreement that would lead to Moscow providing large volumes of grain to its neighbor to the south.
The meeting comes at a time of heightened regional tensions following Ankara’s military interventions in Syria and Libya, as well as the ongoing conflicts between Armenia and Azerbaijan, as well as between different factions in Libya.
The commercial context of the meeting is seen by some observers as a sign that Russia is seeking to strengthen its influence in the Middle East and the eastern Mediterranean, potentially at the expense of the United States and other Western powers.
The grain deal, if agreed upon, could also indicate a political shift in the relationship between the two countries, as Russia could emerge as a major provider of grain to Turkey, and potentially, a future partner in the region.
The talks between Putin and Erdogan come at a time when the geopolitical landscape of the region is undergoing significant change, and as such could set the tone for relations between Russia and Turkey going forward.