Hours-long talks between Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin to revive the agreement on a deal for the safe export of grain from Ukraine and Russia ended inconclusively on Tuesday.
During the talks, which took place in Moscow, Erdogan failed to reverse Putin’s opposition to rejoining the grain deal after Russia pulled out of the UN-backed agreement in July.
However, Erdogan, who has invested political prestige in first getting the grain deal in place and then keeping it alive, remained confident Russia could be persuaded to rejoin the agreement, according to Reuters.
”In Turkey, we believe that within a short time we will reach a solution that will fulfill expectations,” Erdogan said after the meeting, as cited by Reuters.
The grain deal was negotiated after Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 because Ukraine’s large corn and wheat production could not reach the world market and threatened to cause hunger, especially in poorer parts of the world.
Russia is blocking shipping traffic to and from Ukraine via the Black Sea, and Putin is making numerous demands - including the lifting of Western sanctions against Russia - in regards to rejoining the grain agreement.
According to Erdogan, there is a need for Ukraine to take a less rigid position in relation to Russia.
”Ukraine especially needs to soften its approach to enable joint steps to be taken with Russia,” Erdogan said.
However, the Ukrainian government maintains its basic view that Russia is the aggressor in the war and can easily solve the grain crisis by withdrawing its military from Ukraine.
”We should not continue to be hostages of Russian blackmail, where Russia creates problems and then invites everyone to solve them,” said Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.
Shortly before the talks between Russia and Turkey on Monday, Russia bombed a Ukrainian grain terminal on the Danube River on the border with Romania.