Turkey's Erdogan urges Russia to renew Ukraine grain deal

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is urging Russia to return to a deal allowing Ukraine to export grain, easing a global food crisis

Moscow has shown no signs of relenting in its attacks on grain export infrastructure ahead of the talks (Photo: DW)
Moscow has shown no signs of relenting in its attacks on grain export infrastructure ahead of the talks (Photo: DW)


Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish opposite number Recep Tayyip Erdogan were meeting on Monday to talk about restoring a crucial UN-brokered grain deal.

Moscow abandoned the deal, which created corridors for food exports amid a global food shortage, in early July. Russia complained that the West was blocking its own grain and fertilizer exports.

Why is the deal important?

The agreement, brokered by the United Nations and Turkey, had kept Ukrainian grain exports flowing since last summer, securing global supply chains.

Since Russia stepped back from the deal, Russia has launched a barrage of attacks on cereal stores and port infrastructure in Ukraine, one of the world's largest grain suppliers. It has said it will regard vessels traveling to and from Ukrainian ports as potentially carrying military cargo and, therefore, legitimate targets.

The attacks have included its inland Danube River ports of Reni and Izmail, both just across the water from NATO member Romania, which have gained increasing significance as export hubs for Ukraine.

Turkey's president has called upon Russia to lift its blockade, underlining the agreement's importance for food stability across the developing world. He has stressed that the deal is also essential to maintain security in the Black Sea region itself.

Erdogan has sought to maintain cordial ties with both Moscow and Kyiv during the 16-month war and has refused to join other NATO members in sanctioning Russia.

Monday's meeting between Erdogan and Putin was set to take place around midday local time in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi.

What is Russia demanding?

Putin says certain conditions — the easing of Western sanctions — would need to be fulfilled for Russia to return to the deal.

These would entail the removal of obstacles to exports of Russia's foodstuffs, including Western sanctions on payments, logistics, and shipping insurance.

Erdogan has indicated sympathy with Putin's position. In July, he said Putin had "certain expectations from Western countries" over the Black Sea deal. He added it was "crucial for these countries to take action in this regard."

Recently, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres sent Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov "concrete proposals" to get Russian exports to global markets. However, Lavrov said Moscow was not satisfied with the letter.

Moscow has shown no signs of relenting in its attacks on grain export infrastructure ahead of the talks.

Russia launched a "massive" drone attack targeting Ukraine's Odesa region, Ukrainian officials said Monday, damaging infrastructure in Izmail. The Danube route is now Ukraine's most important conduit to export grain, with ships departing to the Black Sea via the Romanian port of Constanta — thus skirting Russia's blockade on Ukrainian ports.

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