Putin summons Erdogan and plans to pump more Russian gas through Turkey

  • Putin presents the Turkish President with a new plan for the “gas axis”
  • Moscow seeks new corridor after damage to Baltic pipelines
  • Erdogan is seen as a major diplomatic player in the Russo-Ukrainian war

ASTANA (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested to his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday that Moscow could export more gas through Turkey and turn it into a new supply “hub” in a bid to preserve Russia’s energy influence in Europe.

At a meeting in Kazakhstan, Putin said that Turkey had offered the most reliable way to deliver gas to the European Union, and that the proposed platform would allow price-setting without politics.

Russia is looking to redirect supplies away from Nord Stream’s Baltic gas pipelines, which were damaged in explosions last month and are still under investigation. Russia blamed the West, without providing evidence, and dismissed what it called “stupid” assertions that it had sabotaged the pipelines themselves.

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Putin told Erdogan that the center would be “a platform not only for supplies but also for price setting because this is a very important issue.”

“Today, those prices are very high,” he said. We can organize easily [them] At a natural market level, without any political overtones.”

Erdogan did not respond in the televised part of their meeting, but Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted by the RIA news agency as saying that the two men had ordered a quick and detailed examination of the idea.

Russia supplied about 40 percent of European gas before its February 24 invasion of Ukraine, but cut flows sharply even before the explosions, blaming technical problems it said were the result of Western sanctions.

European governments rejected this explanation and accused Moscow of using energy as a geopolitical weapon.

Turkish mediation

Relations with NATO member Turkey are vital to Russia at a time when the West has been hit by waves of economic sanctions that Ankara has refrained from joining. But Turkey rejected the Russian move to annex four Ukrainian regions, calling it a “serious violation” of international law.

Erdogan has sought to mediate between Moscow and Kiev, achieving a rare breakthrough in July when he brokered a deal with the United Nations allowing the resumption of commercial Ukrainian grain exports from Black Sea ports closed by Russia.

However, Russia has complained that its grain and fertilizer exports, although not directly targeted by Western sanctions, still face hurdles due to problems with access to foreign ports and obtaining insurance.

Erdogan told Putin: “We are determined to strengthen and continue grain exports… and transport Russian grain and fertilizers to less developed countries via Turkey.”

Russian officials said before the meeting that they were open to hearing proposals from Turkey about hosting peace talks involving Russia and the West.

However, Peskov was quoted by RIA as saying that “the issue of the Russian-Ukrainian settlement was not discussed” by the leaders.

This week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov signaled increased receptivity to talks after Moscow suffered a series of military defeats. Washington rejected his statements, describing them as “positions.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky ruled out speaking with Putin after he announced the annexation of Ukraine’s four regions and after Russia rained missiles on Ukrainian cities this week following an attack on a vital bridge between Russia and its captured Crimea. 2014.

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Reporting by Reuters. Written by Mark Trevelyan, Editing by Kevin Levy

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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