Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin recently met in Sochi to discuss the potential revival of a grain deal that had previously played a crucial role in addressing a food crisis by facilitating the export of Ukrainian grain. The original agreement had been brokered by the United Nations and Turkey, but Russia withdrew from it in July due to challenges it faced with its own food and fertilizer exports.
During their meeting, Erdogan expressed optimism about finding a solution to resurrect the grain deal. He emphasized that Russia’s expectations were well-known, and both Turkey and the United Nations had collaborated on crafting a new set of proposals to address Russia’s concerns.
In response, Putin clarified that Russia would be open to rejoining the grain deal if Western restrictions on Russian agricultural exports were lifted. He contended that the claims made by the West regarding a food crisis caused by Russia’s withdrawal were erroneous, as there was no actual shortage of food. Instead, Putin argued that limitations related to payments, logistics, and insurance had impeded the flow of food and fertilizer shipments from Russia to global markets.
Putin also shared Russia’s expectations for a significant grain harvest, estimating a total of around 130 million tonnes, with 60 million tonnes potentially available for export. He elaborated on plans to supply up to 1 million tonnes of Russian grain to Turkey at reduced prices, with the intention of it being processed and exported to countries facing food shortages. Furthermore, Russia was in the final stages of negotiations to provide six African nations with up to 50,000 tonnes of grain each, free of charge.
The United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, had previously forwarded specific proposals to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in an effort to revive the grain deal. Among Russia’s primary demands was the reconnection of the Russian Agricultural Bank to the SWIFT international payments system, which had been severed by the EU in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The meeting between Erdogan and Putin centered on the potential resurrection of the grain deal, contingent on the lifting of Western restrictions on Russian agricultural exports. Discussions also encompassed Russia’s anticipated grain harvest, plans for grain supply to Turkey and African nations, and key demands regarding the Russian banking sector.