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Turkey and Russia Discuss Reviving Grain Deal Amid UN Efforts to Alleviate Food Crisis

by Rahil M
0 comment

The grain deal in question, brokered by the United Nations and Turkey, faced a setback when Russia withdrew from it in July.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan announced on Monday that efforts to revive the grain deal between Turkey and Russia were progressing, a deal that had previously helped ease a food crisis after Erdogan’s face-to-face meeting with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, the first such meeting since 2022.

The grain deal in question, brokered by the United Nations and Turkey, faced a setback when Russia withdrew from it in July. Russia cited significant obstacles to its own food and fertilizer exports as the reason for its withdrawal. Both Erdogan and the United Nations have been working to persuade Putin to reconsider Russia’s position and rejoin the deal.

Erdogan expressed optimism about reaching a resolution quickly, stating, “As Turkey, we believe that we will reach a solution that will meet the expectations in a short time.” He acknowledged that Russia had clear expectations and that addressing any shortcomings in the deal was essential. Erdogan also mentioned that Turkey and the United Nations had collaborated on a new set of proposals designed to address Russia’s concerns.

However, Erdogan suggested that Ukraine should adopt a more flexible approach in negotiations with Russia to revive the grain deal. He proposed that Ukraine should export more grain to Africa instead of Europe. This recommendation aligns with Turkey’s efforts to mediate and find common ground between Russia and Ukraine.

In response to Erdogan’s comments, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba emphasized that Ukraine would maintain its principled positions in negotiations with Russia but would take Turkey’s account of the Sochi talks into consideration. Kuleba reiterated Ukraine’s commitment to not succumbing to Russian pressure tactics and maintaining sanctions on Russia.

During the joint press conference with Erdogan, Putin reiterated Russia’s stance that it could consider rejoining the grain deal only if Western countries stopped imposing restrictions on Russian agricultural exports to global markets. A separate memorandum agreed upon with the United Nations focuses on creating conditions favorable to Russia’s food and fertilizer exports.

Putin argued that the claims that Russia’s exit from the grain deal had exacerbated a food crisis were incorrect, as global food prices did not increase significantly after Russia’s withdrawal. He contended that there was no actual food shortage and blamed Western restrictions on payments, logistics, and insurance for hindering Russian food and fertilizer exports.

Addressing the issue of grain exports, Putin stated that Russia expected a grain harvest of 130 million tonnes in the current year, with 60 million tonnes available for export.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had previously sent a set of concrete proposals to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov aimed at reviving the grain deal. One of Russia’s key demands in these negotiations is the reconnection of the Russian Agricultural Bank to the SWIFT international payments system, which the EU had disconnected in June 2022 as part of the sanctions imposed due to the Ukraine conflict.

Putin clarified that a plan to supply up to 1 million tonnes of Russian grain to Turkey at reduced prices, for subsequent processing at Turkish facilities and distribution to countries in need, was not an alternative to the grain deal.

Moreover, Putin announced that Russia was close to finalizing a deal with six African countries – Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Mali, Somalia, the Central African Republic, and Eritrea – to provide each with up to 50,000 tonnes of grain free of charge. This initiative reflects Russia’s commitment to addressing global food security concerns.

While negotiations to revive the grain deal continue between Turkey, Russia, and the United Nations, the complexities of international trade, sanctions, and geopolitical tensions make finding a comprehensive solution a challenging task. The outcome of these negotiations will have a significant impact on global grain markets and food security efforts.

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