Putin, Erdogan to discuss Black Sea grain deal in Sochi meeting



Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan will meet in Sochi on Monday in a bid to reestablish the Black Sea grain deal that Russia broke off from in July.

"The current status (of the grain deal) will be discussed at the summit on Monday. We are cautious, but we hope to achieve success because this is a situation that affects the entire world," Akif Cagatay Kilic, Erdogan's chief foreign policy and security advisor, said during an interview with the A Haber television channel.

Noting Türkiye has been seeking ways, including fresh proposals, to have Russia return to the grain initiative, Russian news agency TASS reported that Erdogan will lay out these proposals to Putin and will try to persuade the Russian leaders to consider reviving the original deal.

However, there are small chances Erdogan will succeed, as Russia has taken a principled position in this regard, insisting that there be clear guarantees rather than promises, according to TASS.

The Sochi summit follows talks between the Russian and Turkish foreign ministers on Thursday, during which Russia handed over a list of actions that the West would have to take in order for Ukraine's Black Sea exports to resume.

Ahead of the summit, Liu Shaobin, China's ambassador to Türkiye, told reporters in Ankara on Friday that China welcomed Türkiye's diplomatic efforts for the restoration of the grain deal.

Liu added that China's stance towards the initiative is clear, and the parties should establish a dialogue to ensure international food security.

Acknowledging that some of Russia's demands and concerns were not fully met, the ambassador hoped the two leaders would solve the issue, adding that China is ready to strengthen the dialogue by coordinating with Türkiye and to make efforts to solve problems, including those that arise in the international supply chain.

Why Russia left the deal

Russia and Ukraine signed separately with Türkiye and the United Nations the Black Sea Grain Initiative in Istanbul in July 2022, which allowed Ukraine to export its grain and other agricultural products from its Black Sea ports.

The deal had allowed nearly 33 million tonnes of grain and other commodities to leave three Ukrainian ports safely despite the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

The initiative, which was initially valid for 120 days, was extended in mid-November 2022 for another 120 days until March 18, 2023. Then Russia agreed to extend the deal for only 60 days. On May 17, Russia agreed to extend the deal for another 60 days.

The agreement expired on July 17 after no deal could be reached for an extension. Moscow said that it would immediately return to the deal as soon as the part of the agreement relating to Russia was fulfilled by the other parties.

Moscow has repeatedly complained that the West has not met its obligations, and there are restrictions on payments, logistics and insurance on shipments of its own food and fertilizer exports.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres recently sent Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov "concrete proposals" aimed at getting Russian exports to global markets and allowing the resumption of the Black Sea initiative. However, Lavrov said Moscow wasn't satisfied with the letter.