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Russia demands concessions to relaunch grain deal

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk September 4, 2023 6:57 PM 1 min read
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sept. 4, 2023 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Contributor/Getty Images)
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Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia won't resume the Black Sea Grain Initiative without the West decreasing sanctions.

Russia will only rejoin the initiative once sanctions related to Russian grain and fertilizers for European markets would be lifted, Putin said during talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Sochi on Sept. 4.

Turkish state-run news agency Anadolu reported earlier in the day that a key reason for Erdogan's visit was to negotiate the restoration of the deal, which Moscow had unilaterally terminated in July.

The UN has previously offered to assist Russia with its food and fertilizer exports.

Erdogan told the press in Sochi that he hopes a solution will be reached soon, and that a new package of proposals from the UN has led to "significant progress."

"Ukraine needs to soften its approach in order to take joint steps with Russia," he said, adding that Turkey was willing to host direct negotiations between the two countries.

Moscow withdrew from the Black Sea grain deal on July 17, causing spikes in wheat prices and fears about food security worldwide.

The agreement previously allowed Ukraine to export its grain through its Black Sea ports amid the ongoing Russian full-scale invasion.

Turkey, positioning itself as a mediator between Ukraine and Russia, played an important role in brokering the grain deal in July 2022. Since the agreement's collapse, Ankara has been in contact with both Kyiv and Moscow, discussing the options for its restoration.

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