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Saturday, June 1, 2024

Putin may visit Türkiye – Erdogan

The Turkish president hopes his Russian counterpart will attend the opening of a nuclear plant

Russian President Vladimir Putin may travel to Türkiye for the inauguration of the country’s first nuclear power plant, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told local TV station A Haber on Wednesday. The Akkuyu facility was built in partnership with the Russian state nuclear giant Rosatom.

The Russian leader will either attend the opening ceremony in person or via video link on April 27, Erdogan said, describing the plant as one of Türkiye’s “indispensable investments” that would help the country “seriously store energy.” Akkuyu’s first reactor is set to become operational later this year, while the entire plant is due to go on-line by 2025. When complete, it will feature four reactors capable of generating 4,800 megawatts.

The Turkish and Russian heads of state spoke on the phone recently regarding collaboration between their two nations on strategic power engineering projects, including the Akkuyu plant and natural gas supplies.

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Erdogan thanked his Russian counterpart for his assistance in the aftermath of the deadly earthquakes in Türkiye last month, which included the donation of construction materials and the deployment of Russian rescue personnel and a field hospital in Hatay province. The quakes, centered near the city of Gaziantep, killed an estimated 50,000 people and injured many more.

The Turkish leader also praised Russia’s “positive stance regarding the extension of the Black Sea Grain Initiative,” according to a statement released by the Presidential Communications Directorate on Saturday. The two countries signed a deal with Ukraine and the United Nations last July, reopening grain exports from three of the Ukrainian ports that had been blocked with the start of Russia’s military operation last February, and the agreement was extended last week.

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As a NATO member nation with strong economic ties to Russia, Türkiye is caught in a difficult position regarding the conflict viewed by many as a proxy war between Russia and the military alliance, which has pumped tens of billions of dollars of weapons into the Ukrainian military over the last year. Ankara and Moscow nevertheless agreed in August to trade gas in rubles and hope to increase bilateral trade volume to $100 billion.