September 6, 2023


Russia not renewing Ukraine grain deal until demands on agricultural exports met




Russian President Vladimir Putin said on September 4 that a landmark deal allowing Ukraine to export grain safely through the Black Sea amid the Russo-Ukraine war will not be restored until the West meets Moscow's demands on its own agricultural exports.


Ukraine and its Western allies have dismissed the Kremlin's demands as a ploy to advance its own interests.


Still, Putin's remarks dashed hopes that his talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan could revive an agreement seen as vital for global food supplies, especially in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.


Russia refused to extend the deal in July, complaining that a parallel agreement promising to remove obstacles to Russian exports of food and fertiliser hadn't been honored. It said restrictions on shipping and insurance hampered its agricultural trade, though it has shipped record amounts of wheat since last year.


Putin reiterated those complaints, while also telling reporters that if those commitments were honored, Russia could return to the deal "within days."


Erdogan also expressed hope that a breakthrough could come soon. He said Turkey and the United Nations — which both brokered the original deal — have put together a new package of proposals to unblock the issue.


"We believe that we will reach a solution that will meet the expectations in a short time," Erdogan said at the news conference held with Putin in the Russian resort of Sochi.


Ukraine and Russia are major suppliers of wheat, barley, sunflower oil and other goods that developing nations rely on.


Data from the Joint Coordination Center in Istanbul, which organised shipments under the deal, show that 57% of the grain from Ukraine went to developing nations, with the top destination being China.


Grain prices shot up after Russia pulled out of the deal but have since fallen back, indicating that there isn't a big crunch in the market for the moment.


Putin also added that Russia was close to finalising an agreement to provide free grain to six African countries. Last month, he promised shipments to Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Mali, Somalia, Eritrea and Central African Republic.


The Russian leader added that the country will ship one million tonnes of cheap grain to Turkey for processing and delivery to poor countries.

- The Associated Press

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