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4 Sep, 2023 13:56

Putin comments on grain deal after meeting with Erdogan

Moscow will return to the Black Sea initiative only after the West lifts restrictions on Russian agricultural exports, the president has said
Putin comments on grain deal after meeting with Erdogan

The West essentially forced Moscow to terminate its participation in the Black Sea grain initiative by failing to lift sanctions on Russian agricultural exports, President Vladimir Putin has said. The Russian leader was commenting after a meeting with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in Sochi on Monday.

At a press conference following their talks, Putin stated that Russia is willing to return to the grain deal but only if all sides of the agreement fulfill their obligations.  

The Russian leader claimed that while Moscow had ensured the safety of grain corridors from Ukrainian ports, Kiev had “used these corridors to conduct terrorist attacks.” Putin also argued that the deal had failed to resolve the global food crisis due to series issues in the fair distribution of grain. 

According to the Russian leader, the West “lied about the Black Sea deal’s goal of helping developing countries,” as over 70% of the grain shipped out of Ukraine had gone to the EU and other developed nations, while only 3% ended up in states that needed it the most.

Putin stated that regardless of the deal, Russia remains committed to exporting fertilizer and other agricultural products in order to stabilize the world market. He announced that Moscow intends to send 1 million tons of grain at a “preferential price” for processing in Türkiye and the subsequent free transportation to the poorest nations of the world. 

He added that Moscow hopes that this initiative will receive support from the government of Qatar, which has also expressed its willingness to help developing countries.

The president added that Russia is close to finalizing a deal with six African states about the free delivery of agricultural products, noting that negotiations are in their final stages and that shipments could begin in several weeks.

The announcement comes following reports that the UN has suggested reconnecting Russia’s agricultural lender Rosselkhozbank to the SWIFT interbank messaging system, in an effort to revive the Black Sea grain deal.

Russia terminated its participation in the UN and Turkish-brokered initiative in mid-July after accusing the West of failing to honor its obligations under the agreement. The deal was meant to facilitate the delivery of Ukrainian grain to world markets in exchange for lifting Western sanctions on Russia’s agricultural exports. Moscow has argued that the restrictions on its products have remained in place and has said that it will not return to the deal until the US and EU fulfill their end of the bargain.

Türkiye has been trying to revive the initiative by calling on the West to keep to its promises and calling for the scope of the deal to be expanded. Ankara has also argued that a revised Black Sea Grain Initiative could in the future become the basis for a truce or even a peace deal between Moscow and Kiev.

President Erdogan confirmed during the press conference that Türkiye is willing to support this initiative and will send flour made from Russian grain to poor countries.