Russian FM Sergey Lavrov and his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ankara, April 7, 2023InternationalIndiaAfricaRussian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu on April 7 after arriving in the Turkish capital of Ankara. The two ministers discussed the Black Sea Grain Initiative, prospects of bilateral cooperation, energy, and the situation in the Middle East, among other issues.Sergey Lavrov and Mevlut Cavusoglu drew particular attention to the grain deal brokered by Turkiye last year between Moscow and Kiev during their joint presser Thursday.Turkish Foreign Minister Cavusoglu emphasized that it is necessary to lift all obstacles to the supply of Russian grain and fertilizers to world markets. Russia is one of the biggest exporters of food and other agricultural commodities and its role in thwarting the food crisis in the Global South could hardly be overestimated, according to Sputnik’s interlocutors.”Most of the grain-related food crisis is happening in Africa,” Turkish political scientist Onur Sinan Guzaltan told Sputnik. “However, most of the grain transported in the existing agreement is used by Western countries. There is definitely an injustice here. Yes, Russia and Turkiye can develop a common policy towards Africa, especially North Africa, over the grain issue. In such a plan, the Suez Canal has strategic importance as well as the Bosphorus. Likewise, a common security understanding should be developed in the Eastern Mediterranean, just as in the Black Sea, against US provocations. On the other hand, Gulf countries can participate in such an initiative through Saudi Arabia and Qatar. And it becomes easier to deliver grain to African and Asian countries in need.”AfricaForgiven Debt, Free Grain, New Heights of Cooperation: Putin’s Key Takeaways on Africa20 March, 12:05 GMTMoscow, Kiev, Ankara and the United Nations concluded a deal to ensure safe passage of vessels carrying food and fertilizers from Ukrainian Black Sea ports on July 22, 2022. The deal, originally scheduled to expire on November 18, was extended for another 120 days on November 17. On March 18, 2023, Russia extended the grain deal again, for 60 days.The grain deal makes Turkiye and Russia a viable alternative for the Global South, according to Turkish political expert Dr. Bilal Sambur.”No Western power [was] involved in the process,” emphasized the expert. “Russia opens a large space for Turkiye, which allows it to play its intermediary role. Russia makes Turkiye an effective and credible partner (…) Turkiye is getting a lot of benefits from her relations with Russia. The West is the only loser camp in this process.”Meanwhile, earlier this week Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin chastized the US, the EU and the UK for falsely claiming that sanctions they have imposed over the Ukrainian conflict do not curb Russian exports of food and fertilizers.The Global South is struggling to survive the food crisis and the Russian agricultural industry has means to help it. In 2022, Russia collected over 150 million tons of grain, including more than 100 million tons of wheat. In his February address to the Federal Assembly, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that until the end of the agricultural year, by June 30, 2023, Russia would be able to bring the total volume of grain export to 55-60 million tons.AfricaMozambique Sees No UN Ships With Grain as Wheat Products Grow More Expensive – Envoy1 April, 09:22 GMT
The Russian and Turkish top diplomats also touched upon the situation in the Middle East and the preparation of the ministerial meeting between Turkiye, Russia, Iran and Syria. The primary goal of the forthcoming talks is to normalize relations between Damascus and Ankara which were disrupted during the Syrian civil war. Earlier, the meeting of Turkish and Syrian defense ministers took place in December 2022 for the first time in 11 years.”We are in a normalization process between Turkiye and Syria that will bring stability to the region,” Guzaltan pointed out. “It is important and necessary for Russia to support Turkiye-Syria normalization. Ankara-Damascus normalization will limit the US’s movement and provocations in our region. This is in the interest of all forces in the region, including Russia.”The Turkish expert also placed emphasis on the importance of expelling the US-backed Kurdish militias as well as Daesh*-like terrorist organizations operating on Syrian territory. Ankara sees the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and their political wing (PYD) as affiliates of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) designated as a terrorist organization in Turkiye.”Turkiye, Russia and Iran have developed a joint initiative for the solution of the Syria problem with the Astana process that started in 2015. And today we have come to the last point,” Guzaltan stressed.”Russia is the only country which could convince Syria to enter a dialogue with Turkiye,” echoed Dr. Sambur. “Everything depends on Russia in Syria-Turkish relations. Without Russia nothing is possible.”WorldTurkish Parliament Approves Botas Structural Changes to Create New Gas Hub, Media Reports6 April, 11:39 GMT
Russo-Turkish Gas Hub
While peace in Syria could help restore stability in the region, the Russo-Turkish gas hub project could reinvigorate its economic development. On Friday, Lavrov and Cavusoglu brought focus to the work on the creation of the gas infrastructure for the transportation of Russian hydrocarbons.Following the sabotage attack on Russia’s Nord Stream pipelines in September 2022, which, according to Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh was conducted by US and Norwegian operatives, the presidents of Turkiye and Russia came up with the Turkish gas hub plan. According to Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak, the idea is not only to create a trading platform in Turkiye but also to develop infrastructure and increase the volume of supplies to Europe. Algeria, Qatar and Azerbaijan could jump on the Russo-Turkish bandwagon as suppliers.”President Putin creates new opportunities for Turkiye in the gas field,” said Dr. Sambur. “One of the strategic dreams of Turkiye is to become a [gas hub]. Turkiye will use these opportunities through every means. President Putin’s recent decisions make Turkiye a credible and strong ally of Russia. Turkish siding with Russia makes NATO and the Western block very weak. Russia is still one of the key geostrategic players in world politics. President Putin’s decisions show the ability and power of Russia in the global geopolitical power struggle.”For his part, Onur Guzaltan suggested that Putin and Erdogan are fixing to solve a broader problem, i.e. Washington’s attempts to separate Europe from Eurasia through the Ukraine conflict. The same reason is behind the US-based sanctions and the sabotage of the Nord Stream pipeline: to break the Old Continent’s ties with the East and Russia thus forcing the European countries to become completely dependent on the US.