Any initiative that isolates Russia in the Black Sea Grain Initiative is bound to fail, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday, while Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Moscow would return to the “collective implementation” of the grain deal “the same day” their conditions for export of own grain and fertilizers to the global markets are met.
“We believe that any initiative that isolates Russia is bound to fail. Its success is a very little possibility. We believe that any step that may escalate the tensions in the Black Sea should be avoided… We are going to have continuous talks…,” Mr. Erdogan said at a press conference here. He said representatives of Russia, Ukraine and the United Nations would meet very soon on this issue.
Giving details of the initiative so far, Mr. Erdogan said so far, 33 million tonnes of grain had been exported by Russia through the Black Sea corridor. ”Fact is, out of this, 33% was bought by the West, 14% came to us and a smaller amount went to Africa.”
Mr. Erdogan said Russian President Vladimir Putin insisted that the West had not kept the promises they made to Moscow. “He [Mr. Putin] says they [Russia] can possibly give the grain free of charge, turn it into flour, join hands with Qatar and give it to poor African countries,” Mr. Erdogan said.
“This is what Putin said lastly on Monday,” Mr. Erdogan added, referring to his visit to Moscow.
“We now favour this proposal,” Mr. Edrogan said, adding that poor countries in Africa were wondering how much grain would come out of Russia.
The war in Ukraine disrupted grain supplies from Ukraine and as the repercussions were felt across the globe, a deal was stuck between Russia and Ukraine, mediated by Turkey and the UN, under which ships carrying grain were given a safe passage through the Black Sea. However, the deal collapsed in July as Russia pulled out of it.
Speaking to the media on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit that concluded on Sunday, Mr. Lavrov said that when all the necessary actions for removing obstacles for Russian grain and fertilizer exports are implemented, the same day Russia “will return to the collective implementation of the Ukrainian part of the ‘Black Sea initiative’.”
Mr. Lavrov said that meant restoring Russian banks’ access to the SWIFT system and allowing exporters to avail insurance for the grain and other commodity exports.
Criticising the UN Secretary General for working “unilaterally” for only one side, Mr. Lavrov said the assurances given thus far meant Russia would have to revive the grain deal immediately, but only receive relief for its exports over a few months.
Referring to the initiative, the Delhi Declaration adopted at the G-20 Summit called for “full, timely and effective implementation to ensure the immediate and unimpeded deliveries of grain, foodstuffs, and fertilizers/inputs from the Russian Federation and Ukraine”.
“This is necessary to meet the demand in developing and least developed countries, particularly those in Africa,” it stated.
Russia and Ukraine together account for 21% of global grain trade. The UN and other international agencies have been calling for an urgent revival of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which had helped stabilise food prices to some extent in the past year after the Ukraine conflict began.