Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed willingness to engage in negotiations regarding the Ukraine grain export deal during a meeting with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in Sochi. The grain deal, previously brokered by the United Nations and Turkey, aimed to facilitate the transport of Ukrainian grain to global markets via the Black Sea, helping to alleviate a global food crisis.
Russia withdrew from the deal in July, citing obstacles to its own food and fertilizer exports and insufficient Ukrainian grain distribution to countries in need. However, Putin stated that Moscow is open to discussions on the grain agreement, hinting at the possibility of a return if conditions are met.
Erdogan had previously played a significant role in persuading Putin to support the deal. While cautious, Erdogan’s chief foreign policy and security advisor, Akif Cagatay Kilic, expressed hope for a successful outcome.
This meeting is significant, as Russia and Ukraine are major agricultural producers, with roles in various markets, including wheat, barley, maize, rapeseed, rapeseed oil, sunflower seed, and sunflower oil. The grain deal’s revival could help address global food supply challenges.
Putin has suggested that Russia could reconsider the grain deal if the West fulfills a separate memorandum, agreed with the United Nations, facilitating Russian food and fertilizer exports. Obstacles related to payments, logistics, and insurance have hampered Russian food and fertilizer exports despite not being subject to Western sanctions.
Meanwhile, tensions persist between Russia and Ukraine, with reports of an overnight air attack on a major Ukrainian grain exporting port. A Ukrainian claim that Russian drones fell and detonated on Romanian territory was denied by Romania, a NATO member.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has proposed “concrete proposals” to revive the grain deal, but Moscow’s demand to reconnect the Russian Agricultural Bank to the SWIFT international payments system remains a major point of contention. The EU disconnected the bank in June 2022 as part of sanctions in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Russia’s blockading of Ukrainian Black Sea ports has disrupted grain exports, leading Ukraine to establish a “humanitarian corridor” along the western Black Sea coast. Several vessels have used this corridor to exit the Black Sea.
Additionally, Russia and Turkey have discussed a plan for Russia to supply up to 1 million tonnes of Russian grain to Turkey at reduced prices, with subsequent processing at Turkish facilities and shipment to countries in need.
The meeting between Putin and Erdogan holds significance not only for the grain deal but also as a chance for the two leaders to address broader regional and international matters. Ahead of the meeting, US wheat prices fluctuated due to factors such as global supply dynamics and efforts to renew the grain deal.
Sources By Agencies