Turkish President Erdogan and Russian President Putin recently held talks in Sochi, with the main agenda being the revival of a crucial grain deal. This deal, which was brokered by the United Nations and Turkey, aimed to tackle a food crisis by facilitating the transportation of Ukrainian grain to the market. Unfortunately, Russia pulled out of the agreement back in July, citing obstacles to its own food and fertilizer exports.
During the meeting, Erdogan and the United Nations sought to persuade Putin to reconsider his stance and return to the deal. Erdogan expressed optimism, stating that a solution could be reached in a short time to meet expectations. He also suggested that Ukraine should alter its negotiating position with Russia, recommending that the country export more grain to Africa rather than Europe.
However, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kuleba made it clear that Ukraine would not change its stance and would prioritize defending its principled positions, including maintaining sanctions on Russia. On the other hand, Putin reiterated Russia’s willingness to revive the grain deal if the West lifts restrictions on its agricultural exports. He criticized the West for impeding the supply of Russian grain and fertilizer to global markets and questioned the validity of claims of a food crisis caused by Russia’s withdrawal from the deal.
Both Russia and Ukraine are significant players in the agricultural sector, particularly in wheat, barley, maize, and oil markets. Putin announced Russia’s expected grain harvest of 130 million tonnes this year, with 60 million tonnes available for export. In an attempt to revive the deal, UN Secretary-General Guterres sent proposals to Russia. However, one of the conditions set forth by Russia is the reconnection of the Russian Agricultural Bank to the SWIFT international payments system, which was cut off by the EU in response to sanctions.
Putin clarified that a plan to supply reduced-price Russian grain to Turkey for subsequent processing and shipping to countries in need should not be seen as an alternative to the grain deal. Additionally, Russia is on the verge of finalizing a deal with six African countries to provide them with up to 50,000 tonnes of grain each, free of charge.
The future of the grain deal remains uncertain, with negotiations ongoing among all parties involved. The outcome of these talks will determine the fate of the agreement, which could have far-reaching consequences for the global food market. As the world watches these developments closely, the hope is that a compromise can be reached to alleviate the food crisis and strengthen international cooperation in the agricultural sector.
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