RUSSIA – President Vladimir Putin has assured Turkey’s Tayyip Erdogan that Russia is open to discussions about the Black Sea grain deal- an initiative that helped get Ukraine’s grain to market and ease a global food crisis.
Russia withdrew from this deal in July, one year after its establishment through the United Nations and Turkey, citing challenges to its food and fertilizer exports and a perceived shortfall in distributing Ukrainian grain to nations requiring assistance.
Erdogan, who had played a significant role in persuading Putin to maintain the agreement, along with the United Nations, is attempting to convince Putin to reinstate the deal.
Speaking at the opening of their meeting in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Putin told Erdogan that he hoped they would wrap up talks on a natural gas hub in Turkey and said they would also discuss the grain deal.
“I know that you intend to raise the issue of the grain deal. We are open to negotiations on this question,” Putin told Erdogan.
Erdogan emphasized the global anticipation surrounding the grain corridor issue, stating,
“Everyone is waiting for what will come out of our meeting today. I believe that the message at the press conference after the meeting will be an important step for the whole world, especially for African countries,” he said.
The initial purpose of the deal was to facilitate the transit of Ukrainian grain to global markets via the Black Sea, thereby mitigating a global food crisis exacerbated by Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
Russia and Ukraine are two of the world’s key agricultural producers, and major players in the wheat, barley, maize, rapeseed, rapeseed oil, sunflower seed, and sunflower oil markets.
UN invested in new deal
Concerning the black sea deal, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said on Thursday that he had sent Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov “a set of concrete proposals” aimed at reviving the deal.
Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, recently remarked that things implied by the agreement were yet to be implemented last time.
As had been the case before the collapse of the grain deal, Putin held that Russia could only entertain the grain deal if the West fulfilled a separate memorandum agreed with the United Nations to facilitate Russian food and fertilizer exports.
While Russian exports of food and fertilizer are not subject to Western sanctions imposed after Russia invaded Ukraine, Moscow has said restrictions on payments, logistics, and insurance have hindered shipments.
Meanwhile, Russia has also been discussing a Putin initiative to supply up to 1 million tonnes of Russian grain to Turkey at reduced prices for subsequent processing at Turkish plants and shipping to countries most in need.