Turkish President Erdogan is in the southern Russian port city of Sochi to talk with Russian President Putin about extending the grain deal with Ukraine. Erdogan hopes to persuade Putin to strike a new deal to allow Ukraine to export grain through the Black Sea again.
Russia pulled out of the deal last July. The country wants to force relaxation of the imposed trade restrictions with the new negotiations, but that seems unlikely. Western countries are calling the Russian demands blackmail.
Erdogan has acted as a mediator in the deal; with the first agreement, Turkey was involved in the creation together with the United Nations. The president has maintained close contact with Putin since the outbreak of war in Ukraine.
Putin said at the beginning of the meeting that the relationship between the two countries is at a “very good, high level”. An adviser to Erdogan says Turkey “hopes for success”.
Alternative routes under pressure
Alternative routes for Ukrainian grain exports are coming under increasing pressure from Russian drone attacks. Last night Russia carried out another attack on Izmajil, a Ukrainian port city on the border with Romania. That is one of the main ports from which Ukrainian grain is still exported to other countries.
Russia and Ukraine are the main grain exporters worldwide. When trade from Ukraine came to a standstill last year due to the war, this reinforced the sharp rises in food prices.
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