Kremlin: Putin to meet Turkey’s Erdogan on Monday in Sochi

Kremlin: Putin to meet Turkey’s Erdogan on Monday in Sochi

Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold talks with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Monday in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi, the Kremlin said on Friday.

Two Turkish sources told Reuters on Thursday that the meeting would primarily discuss Black Sea grain exports.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres said on Thursday that he had sent Russia “a set of concrete proposals” aimed at reviving a deal that allowed the safe export of Ukrainian grain via the Black Sea, where Russia controls Ukraine’s sea lanes.

Russia quit the deal in July – a year after it was brokered by the United Nations and Turkey – complaining that Western economic sanctions were hampering its own food and fertilizer exports in contravention of a parallel memorandum, and that not enough Ukrainian grain was going to countries in need.

The Black Sea grain deal was intended to combat a global food crisis that the United Nations said had been worsened by Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, which Russia calls a “special military operation.” Russia and Ukraine are both leading grain exporters.

A Russian diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters earlier there were “no revelations” in Guterres’ letter to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Lavrov himself said on Thursday, after meeting Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan, that Russia saw no sign that it would receive the guarantees needed to revive the grain deal.

Russia has said that if its demands are met, with actions rather than promises, it will resurrect the agreement at once.

One of Moscow’s main demands is for the Russian Agricultural Bank to be reconnected to the SWIFT international payments system. The EU cut it off in June 2022.

While Russian exports of food and fertilizer are not subject to Western sanctions imposed after Russia’s invasion, Moscow has said restrictions on payments, logistics and insurance have hindered shipments. [Reuters]

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