(Bloomberg) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan held nearly four hours of talks Friday, as Ankara pushes for a mediating role to try to help end the war in Ukraine following the breakthrough deal on grain exports.

In a joint statement after the summit in Russia’s Sochi that pledged deeper economic cooperation, the two leaders stressed the key role of “trusting relations” between their countries for regional and international stability, according to the state-run Tass news service. Putin and Erdogan held no press conference after the meeting and the Turkish leader left Russia quickly once it ended.

The sides also emphasized the need for full implementation of the July 22 agreement allowing safe crop exports from Ukrainian ports as well as unhindered deliveries of Russian grain and fertilizers, Tass reported. Putin thanked Erdogan at the start of their talks for his efforts on the grain issue.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak told reporters after the meeting that Russia and Turkey would move to partial payment in rubles for gas deliveries as part of a gradual shift toward settlement in national currencies. He didn’t indicate how much of what he said was 26 billion cubic meters of gas delivered annually to Turkey would be paid for in rubles. 

While Turkey has long pushed for a role in brokering a peace settlement in Ukraine, Russia has so far been cool to the idea. Still, Erdogan is seen in Moscow as a potential go-between in the conflict, said two people familiar with the Kremlin’s thinking, asking not to be identified because the matter is sensitive. 

Like other members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Turkey has said it’s opposed to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and sent weapons including highly effective drones to the government in Kyiv to help counter Putin’s army. At the same time, Turkey has refrained from joining US and European sanctions on Russia over the war. 

Ahead of the summit, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said he hoped the agreement on Ukrainian grain exports could “form the basis of a broader cease-fire and peace plan.”

Turkey has continued to import energy from Russia, which provided a quarter of its crude oil imports and around 45% of its natural-gas purchases last year. Russia has also provided much needed foreign-exchange liquidity to Turkey by transferring billions of dollars to a Turkey-based subsidiary of Rosatom for completion of a nuclear power plant’s construction on the Mediterranean coast.

Energy, Tourism

Turkey concluded that penalizing Russia would hurt Ankara’s economic and political interests, according to a senior Turkish official, who cited a $35 billion hit from higher energy costs and the impact on tourism. 

On Syria, Putin and Erdogan reaffirmed a “determination to act together and in close coordination with each other in the fight against all terrorist organizations,” according to their statement, which offered no details.

After they failed to reach agreement at three-way talks with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in Tehran last month, Erdogan came to Sochi seeking Putin’s acceptance of Turkish plans for a military incursion into Kurdish-controlled territory in northern Syria. Ankara regards the Syrian Kurdish PYD party and its YPG armed wing as affiliated with a Kurdish separatist group on its own territory. 

Putin may give the nod to a Turkish incursion that’s opposed by his ally Syrian President Bashar al-Assad because ties with Erdogan are important for the Kremlin amid US and European efforts to isolate Russia, said Alexey Malashenko, an expert at the state-funded Institute of World Economy and International Relations in Moscow. 

If Russia “stands in Erdogan’s way, it will lose an awful lot,” Malashenko said.

(Updates with talks starting, Putin, Erdogan comments from third paragraph.)

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