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Russian President Vladimir Putin refuses to restore the Black Sea Grain deal

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London: Russian President Vladimir Putin has refused to restore the Black Sea Grain deal. He reiterated that the landmark deal allowing Ukraine to export grain safely across the Black Sea, will be restored only after the West meets Moscow’s demands on its agricultural exports. The remarks came after a meeting with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the Black Sea city of Sochi yesterday. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived in Russia yesterday in the hope of reviving the agreement seen as vital for global food supplies, especially in Africa,and  West Asia.

Mr. Erdogan, after the talks, said that it would soon be possible to revive the grain deal. He said that Russia’s expectations were well-known to all and that the shortcomings should be eliminated. He added that Turkiye and the United Nations had worked on a new package of suggestions to unblock the issue. He also asked the Ukrainian side to soften its negotiating position against Russia in talks over reviving the deal, and export more grain to Africa rather than Europe.

Earlier, Russia had refused to extend the deal in July. Since then, Russia has repeatedly attacked various port regions including the Odesa region recently, where Ukraine’s main Black Sea port is located. According to Russia, a parallel agreement promising to remove obstacles to Russian exports of food and fertilizer had not been honored. However, Ukraine and its Western allies have dismissed the Kremlin’s complaints as without merit. They called it a move to advance Russia’s own interests. 

Ukraine is among the world’s biggest exporter of foodgrains, such as wheat and corn, and a major contributor to the UN’s food aid programmes. Russia  blockaded its ports. This raised fears of food security in the poorer nations of the world amid the rising food prices. The United Nations and Turkiye then brokered a deal called Black Sea Grain Initiative on July 22, 2022. Under this deal, cargo ships would be allowed to travel from and to three Ukrainian ports, after inspection that they were not carrying arms. The deal expired in July this year. Turkiye and the UN have since been trying to revive the agreement.

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