………. Signs booster pact covering transportation, finance and agric
After a four-hour meeting last Friday, Turkey’s President, Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart, President Vladimir Putin, put pen to paper to boost cooperation in the area of transportation, agriculture, finance, and construction industries.
The two countries also agreed to present a seemingly united front against “terrorist organizations” in Syria. A major highlight of the agreement was that Turkey agreed to make subsequent payments for Russia’s natural gas partially in Rubles, Russia’s national currency, Reuters said in a report quoting a joint statement from the two nations.
It would be recalled that shortly after the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, President Vladimir Putin announced that countries that his regime regards as ‘unfriendly’ would be required to pay for Russian energy through a rubles account to insulate Russia from the effects of Western sanctions.
The report said that while Russia would not consider Turkey an unfriendly nation, Turkey’s payment in rubles for Russia’s natural gas would protect those payments from sanctions, and could smooth things over with Moscow, who might otherwise frown on Turkey’s activities in Syria.
Observers say the move by Turkey is not totally unexpected. The country helped broker a deal to ship grain between Russia and Ukraine, further strengthening ties between Russia and Turkey.
Turkey is also believed to oppose the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and its affiliate, YPG – long considered by Turkey, the United States, and the EU to be a terrorist group – which has waged an insurgency for decades against the Turkish government in support of Kurdish minorities in Turkey.
Also Russia is reported to have strong ties with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who controls most of the airspace in northern Syria.
The Turkish President, Erdogan, who is facing an election next year, is in a complicated situation, with Turkey experiencing skyrocketing annual inflation of nearly 80%. This economic crisis would no doubt intensify without Russian gas supplies, the agency report said. Very importantly, Turkey imports nearly half of the gas it uses from Russia.