Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is a “strong leader” who always defended Turkey’s interests, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday.
The Russian President said that his Turkish counterpart was not always an “easy partner” to deal with, but Turkey was always “reliable” and had a desire to reach agreements, Reuters reported.
NATO member Turkey maintains good relations with both Russia and has been engaged in a balancing act since its invasion of Ukraine in February. Ankara has refused to apply sanctions against Moscow unlike Western nations while acting as an intermediary between Russia and Kyiv and was involved in a July deal to unlock grain exports from Ukraine.
Putin and Erdoğan in August agreed to boost cooperation in the transport, agriculture and construction industries, in a move that sparked concern among Western states of mounting risk of Ankara facing potential punitive retaliation if it assists Moscow in avoiding sanctions.
The two leaders earlier this month agreed to form a natural gas hub in Turkey, the Moscow Times reported.
Gas prices have surged following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Russia has reduced gas delivery to Europe in retaliation for Western sanctions leading EU countries to find alternative energy supplies.