Turkey’s Erdogan to meet with Putin in Kazakhstan’s Astana

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President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on the margins of a regional summit in the Kazakh capital, Astana, on Wednesday, a Turkish official told AFP.

Turkey, which has stayed neutral throughout the conflict in Ukraine, has good relations with its two Black Sea neighbors, Russia and Ukraine.

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Erdogan has not yet commented on the mass Russian strikes across Ukraine on Monday, which killed at least 19 people and wounded more than 100.

But Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu held a phone call with Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba after the attacks, a Turkish diplomatic source said, without elaborating further.

Erdogan met Putin on the sidelines of a regional summit in Uzbekistan last month.

He still hopes to bring Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy together for truce talks that neither side particularly wants but which Turkish officials insist are both essential and realistic.

NATO member Turkey has refrained from joining Western sanctions against Russia.

Erdogan is keen to boost trade with Moscow as he tries to stabilize the battered Turkish economy in the run up to elections next June.

Last month, Ankara bowed to pressure from the United States and confirmed the last three Turkish banks still processing Russian card payments were pulling the plug.

The decision followed weeks of increasingly blunt warnings from Washington for Turkey to either limit economic ties with Russia or face the threat of sanctions itself.

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