Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters that he intends to hold talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the situation around the grain deal in the near future.
"The termination of the Black Sea Grain Initiative will lead not only to an increase in world food prices, but also to a number of consequences: from hunger in some regions to new waves of migration. We will not hesitate to take initiatives to prevent this. I think that we will discuss this issue in detail with Mr. Putin and ensure the continuation of this humanitarian movement. We know that he also has certain expectations for Western countries. Western states should also take action on this issue," Erdogan was quoted as saying by TASS.
According to the Turkish president, Russia allegedly stands for the active work of the Black Sea grain corridor. Erdogan added that he expects to restart the grain deal in the foreseeable future.
"We will use all the tools of diplomacy and focus all our efforts on this issue. The compromise that serves humanity in the conditions of war has already been reached, and we will do everything possible to continue it. Upon my return to Turkey, I will hold talks with Mr. Putin. First of all, we will stick to telephone diplomacy. If Mr Putin's visit scheduled for August takes place, we will discuss these issues in detail. I believe that we will ensure the continuation of the Black Sea Grain Initiative without delaying this process," the Turkish leader said.
- Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin
- RIA Novosti
- © Vyacheslav Prokofiev
At the same time, the press secretary of the President of the Russian Federation, Dmitry Peskov, said on July 18 that Vladimir Putin's schedule does not yet provide for contacts with Erdogan.
Lack of progress
It is worth noting that the Turkish leader has recently made contradictory statements in the context of discussing the grain deal. So, on July 14, he said that he had allegedly agreed with Vladimir Putin on its extension, adding that he was counting on the arrival of the Russian president in Turkey in August.
However, Dmitry Peskov denied Western media reports quoting Erdogan, saying that Russian officials had not made any statements regarding the extension of the grain deal.
Recall that the so-called grain deal (in the West it is also called the "Black Sea Grain Initiative"), was concluded in Istanbul on July 22, 2022.
With the participation of the UN, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine, two documents were signed: on the creation of a corridor for the export of grain from three Ukrainian ports (Chernomorsk, Odessa and Yuzhny) and on the removal of barriers to the export of Russian food and fertilizers. Despite the fact that the terms of the Russian part of the grain deal were never met, the initiative was extended in November 2022 for 120 days - until March 2023, and then twice more - until July 17.
On June 13, speaking at a meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Moscow would not agree to extend the deal if it did not work in accordance with all the points of the agreements.
"I have to state again: if the Istanbul "package" (agreements. - RT) does not work, as it was initiated by the UN Secretary General, until July 17, then there can be no talk of any further extension. The world needs Russian fertilizers and wheat no less than Ukrainian feed grain, which is produced by American corporations and bought up at dumping prices by Europeans, hypocritically hiding behind humanitarian slogans," the minister said.
Lavrov stressed that the Ukrainian part of the deal has turned into a commercial project, and only 3% of grain goes to the poorest countries under the agreement.
Among the necessary conditions for the extension of the transaction, the Russian authorities previously called the reconnection of Rosselkhozbank to SWIFT, the resumption of supplies of agricultural machinery and spare parts, the abolition of restrictions on insurance and reinsurance, and the lifting of the ban on access to foreign ports.
On July 17, Dmitry Peskov made a statement that the grain deal ceases to exist.
"Unfortunately, the part concerning Russia and these Black Sea agreements has not yet been implemented. Therefore, their action is terminated. As soon as the Russian part of the agreements is fulfilled, the Russian side will return to the implementation of this deal, "the Kremlin spokesman said.
He stressed that the Russian position was voiced even before the attack of Ukraine on the Crimean bridge on the night of July 17 and these events are not related.
- Grain loading
- © Andrew Kravchenko, File
In turn, the official representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, said that the UN leadership did not cope with its mission, and the promises made to the Russian side were not fulfilled.
"Unfortunately, the United Nations has failed its mediation mission or mission to guarantee the implementation of this package deal, we can already say here that the Secretary-General and the secretariat under his command, I think this will be the absolute truth," TASS quoted her as saying on the air of Solovyov LIVE.
Despite the fact that Moscow really had its own expectations from this agreement, the Turkish leader, making statements about potential negotiations, pursues exclusively his own interests, said Leonid Krutakov, associate professor of the Department of Political Science at the Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation.
"Erdogan in this situation is the main beneficiary and the most interested person. At the same time, earlier he released the Ukrainian militants, hoping that Russia would turn a blind eye to this and continue relations in the same spirit, the expert recalled in an interview with RT. - It is not clear how Erdogan can guarantee the fulfillment of obligations to the Russian side, if the UN Secretary General who signed the document could not guarantee their fulfillment. They were simply ignored. Erdoğan's words cannot be considered a guarantee."
Although Turkey controls the Bosphorus and it is not possible to resolve the issue of exporting grain or other resources through the Black Sea without the participation of Ankara, at the moment talk about extending the grain deal is meaningless, Krutakov believes.
In turn, Vladimir Bruter, an expert at the International Institute for Humanitarian and Political Studies, said in a conversation with RT that Erdogan wants to continue the deal, since he is one of its main beneficiaries.
"Erdogan has thoughts of turning Turkey into a grain and gas hub, taking advantage of the fact that Russia is under Western sanctions, and Turkey can be a convenient transit point for trade. He expects to benefit from this and will offer some compensatory option to stay in business. At the same time, it is obvious to him that the grain deal in its previous form will not be saved," the expert noted.
In addition, when discussing a possible continuation of the grain deal, Erdogan himself will not be able to act as an intermediary, since he cannot guarantee Moscow the fulfillment of Russian demands, Bruter added. According to the expert, instead of a multilateral grain deal, Erdogan will try to achieve an agreement directly between Turkey and Russia.
"Politicians who make statements about mediation in a particular issue or about certain missions cannot guarantee anything and make them for self-promotion. Now the resumption of the grain deal in its current form is impossible, and the effectiveness of the negotiations between Erdogan and Putin, if they take place, will depend on what Turkey will offer, how it will all look, and what Russia will get from it, "the RT interlocutor concluded.