Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday to discuss reviving the grain deal that, according to the United Nations, helped to ease a food crisis by allowing grain from Ukraine to reach the market, Reuters reported.
Moscow walked away from the deal in July, just one year after it was negotiated by Turkey and the UN, claiming that Russia’s food and fertilizer exports were continuing to face serious obstacles, despite being exempted from sanctions imposed after invading Ukraine.
Erdogan and the UN are both trying to coax Putin back to the negotiating table.
Erdogan and Putin met at the Black Sea resort of Sochi in their first face-to-face meeting since 2022.
After Monday’s talks, the Turkish president said he believes that a solution will be reached “in a short time.”
According to Erdogan, Turkey and the UN have been working on a new package to ease Moscow’s concerns, and any shortcomings in the deal should be eliminated. At the same time, Erdogan said Ukraine needs to soften its position on reviving the deal and should export more of its grain to Africa instead of Europe.
Speaking later on Ukrainian television, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said while Kyiv would consider Erdogan’s account of his talks with Putin, it would not alter its position.
Kuleba said Ukraine will not be held hostage by “Russian blackmail” in which Moscow creates the problem and then expects others to come up with a solution.
After Monday’s talks, Putin reiterated that Moscow would return to the deal only if the West lifted restrictions on Russian agricultural exports. He said the West’s claim that Russia is stoking a food crisis by pulling out of the grain deal is incorrect, noting that food prices did not increase after Russia pulled out.
Putin added that the West “cheated” Russia by allowing wealthy nations to get over 70 percent of the grain exported under the conditions of the deal.