Ukraine and grain likely to feature in Putin-Erdogan talks


Black Sea grain exports are likely to be discussed when Vladimir Putin meets Recep Tayyip Erdogan for talks on Monday.

The Kremlin confirmed on Friday Mr Putin will entertain his Turkish counterpart in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi.

Foremost in the discussions will be Black Sea grain exports, Reuters said, quoting two Turkish sources.

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UN Secretary-General António Guterres said on Thursday that he had sent Russia “a set of concrete proposals” aimed at
reviving a deal – originally brokered by Turkey and the UN in July 2022 – which aimed to ensure the safe export of Ukrainian grain via the sea, where Russia controls Ukraine’s sea lanes.

Moscow pulled out of the deal this July, complaining that Western economic sanctions were hampering its own food and fertiliser exports and that not enough Ukrainian grain was going to countries in need.

The agreement was set up to help solve the global food crisis that the UN said had been worsened by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

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Russia and Ukraine are both among the world’s leading grain exporters.

Mr Guterres’ proposals, addressed to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, contained “no revelations”, a Russian diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters.

After meeting his Turkish counterpart on Thursday, Mr Lavrov said he saw no sign Russia would receive the guarantees needed to revive the grain deal.

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Moscow has said that if its demands are met, with actions rather than promises, it will resurrect the agreement at once.

One of its main conditions is for the Russian Agricultural Bank to be reconnected to the SWIFT international payments system after the EU cut it off in June 2022.

While Russian exports of food and fertiliser are not subject to Western sanctions imposed after Russia’s invasion, Moscow has said restrictions on payments, logistics and insurance have hindered shipments.