A new grain deal between Ukraine and Russia does not seem imminent after negotiations between Russian President Putin and his Turkish counterpart Erdogan. That is the main conclusion after three hours of negotiations today between Putin and Erdogan.
The Turkish president had traveled to the southern Russian port of Sochi to talk about a new deal. He hopes to convince Putin to renegotiate Ukraine’s grain trade across the Black Sea.
Afterwards, Erdogan seemed optimistic that new agreements can be made. But Putin reiterated that, as far as he is concerned, the West must first meet Russian demands.
Russian agricultural exports, including food, will not be subject to sanctions by the West, but payments and logistics will be. Putin believes that Russian trade is seriously hampered by those sanctions. Today he made it clear again that he wants the West to lift sanctions before discussing a new grain deal.
The original grain deal was closed in the summer of 2022 and suspended by Moscow exactly one year later. Since then, Russia has been carrying out targeted attacks on the Ukrainian grain industry, including the port city of Odesa. The ports on the Danube, on the border with Romania, are also bombarded by Russian drones.
The grain deal is seen as very important for food security in Africa and the Middle East. Russia and Ukraine are important suppliers of wheat, barley and sunflower oil. The deal was concluded last year after mediation by Turkey and the United Nations. Erdogan now hopes to play a mediating role again. He said he has already spoken to the United Nations. He is trying to maintain good ties with both Russia and Ukraine.
Erdogan said after the negotiations that as far as Turkey is concerned, “a solution is soon in sight” that “meets expectations”. What exactly that means was not clear.
According to Putin, an agreement is now imminent on the supply of one million tons of cheap Russian grain to six African countries. With financial support from Qatar, grain could be delivered via Turkey.
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