Russian President Vladimir Putin conveyed to Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Monday his willingness to engage in discussions regarding the Black Sea grain deal.
This agreement, brokered by the United Nations and Turkey, facilitated the transportation of Ukraine’s grain to global markets, alleviating a worldwide food shortage.
Russia’s withdrawal from the deal in July, a year after its establishment, was prompted by concerns about hindrances to its own food and fertilizer exports and insufficient distribution of Ukrainian grain to nations requiring assistance.
Erdogan, previously instrumental in persuading Putin to uphold the agreement, alongside the United Nations, is striving to encourage Russia’s reentry into the pact.
During their meeting in Sochi, situated along the Black Sea, Putin expressed optimism about concluding negotiations concerning a natural gas hub in Turkey and addressing the grain deal.
Putin stated, “I am aware that you plan to address the matter of the grain deal. We are prepared to engage in negotiations on this matter.”
Erdogan emphasized the global anticipation surrounding the grain corridor issue, highlighting the potential significance of the press conference after their meeting.
He noted its importance not only for the entire world but particularly for African nations.
The initial objective of the deal was to channel Ukrainian grain to global markets through the Black Sea, mitigating the global food crisis exacerbated by Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in the preceding year.
Both Russia and Ukraine are prominent players in the global agricultural sector, with significant involvement in wheat, barley, maize, rapeseed, and sunflower markets.
Prior to the discussions with Erdogan, Ukrainian officials reported a nighttime aerial assault on a major grain-exporting port by Russia.
However, Romania denied Ukraine’s assertion that Russian drones had fallen and detonated on its territory.
Putin stipulated that Russia could rejoin the grain deal if the West fulfills a separate memorandum to facilitate Russian food and fertilizer exports, endorsed by the United Nations.
While Western sanctions imposed after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine do not encompass food and fertilizer exports, logistical and financial restrictions have impeded shipments.
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres presented specific proposals to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov aimed at revitalizing the agreement.
A significant demand from Moscow is the reconnection of the Russian Agricultural Bank to the SWIFT international payment system, which was severed by the EU in response to the invasion.
Russian state television underscored the necessity of fulfilling commitments made to Russia, which were implied in the agreement but remained unimplemented during its previous iteration.
Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian Black Sea ports and the threat to treat vessels as potential military targets following its exit from the U.N.-backed deal prompted Ukraine to establish a “humanitarian corridor” along the western Black Sea coast.
Furthermore, Russia has explored a proposal by Putin to supply Turkey with up to 1 million tonnes of Russian grain at discounted prices, with the intention of subsequent processing at Turkish facilities and distribution to the neediest nations.