Russia Expresses Willingness to Revive Black Sea Grain Deal Pending Putin’s Demands

In a significant development, President Vladimir Putin of Russia has signaled a willingness to engage in talks aimed at resurrecting the Black Sea grain export agreement. This statement comes just hours after Moscow launched airstrikes targeting one of Ukraine’s vital grain-exporting ports during the night. President Putin, speaking on television alongside Turkish President Erdogan, stated, “I understand that you intend to discuss the matter of the grain deal. We are open to negotiations on this matter.”

The Black Sea grain export deal, originally brokered by the United Nations and Turkey, was terminated by Russia in July. This agreement had allowed Ukraine to export grain through the Black Sea following the onset of the Russia-Ukraine war on February 24th the previous year.

Moscow has expressed its readiness to reinstate the deal but conditions it on the removal of restrictions on its own exports. President Putin seeks compliance with a separate memorandum, agreed upon simultaneously with the United States, which aims to facilitate Russian food and fertilizer exports. While food and fertilizer exports from Russia are not directly subjected to Western sanctions, Moscow contends that limitations on payment methods, logistics, and insurance have impeded these shipments.

“We will consider the possibility of reinstating the grain deal, and we will do so as soon as all agreements to lift restrictions on Russian agricultural exports are fully implemented,” President Putin announced during a joint press conference with his Turkish counterpart.

Furthermore, President Putin revealed that Russia is closing in on a deal to provide food aid to Africa, with supplies expected to commence within the next two to three weeks.

In contrast, President Erdogan emphasized Turkey’s opposition to alternative proposals to the previous year’s grain agreement. Speaking jointly with President Putin in Sochi, President Erdogan stated, “The alternative proposals put forward fail to offer a sustainable, secure, and enduring model of cooperation akin to the Black Sea Initiative.”

On a different front, UN Secretary-General António Guterres disclosed that he had sent a set of concrete proposals to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in an effort to revive the deal. Re-establishing the connection between the Russian Agricultural Bank and the SWIFT global payments network remains one of Moscow’s top priorities.

Russian Assault on Ukrainian Ports

Russia’s repeated attacks on Ukrainian port facilities, purportedly aimed at undermining its exports and global food security, have been a source of concern. Notably, on Monday, a drone strike attributed to Russia inflicted damage on a grain export hub located along the Danube River. Reports indicate that warehouses and agricultural equipment were severely affected.

Shortly after this attack, President Putin met with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in Sochi, raising hopes of a potential agreement revival. President Erdogan pledged to make a “significant” announcement concerning grain exports following their discussions.

According to a report by the Russian state news agency TASS, the talks between Presidents Putin and Erdogan involved their respective defense and foreign ministers, as well as other government officials. The discussions centered on the resumption of the grain deal and various bilateral matters on the agenda.”

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