Erdogan confident in extending Ukraine grain deal to alleviate global food crisis


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed confidence in the extension of the crucial Ukraine grain deal, aiming to address the ongoing global food crisis. Erdogan disclosed that he and Russian President Vladimir Putin had discussed the matter, signaling a positive outcome.

“We are preparing to welcome Putin in August, and we agree on the extension of the Black Sea grain corridor,” Erdogan informed reporters during the press briefing. However, he did not specify the exact date of his conversation with Putin.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, responding to Erdogan’s statement, neither confirmed nor denied the Turkish President’s claim. Peskov stated, “There is no statement about this from the Russian side.”

The Black Sea grain deal was initially signed in July 2022, five months after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and has since been renewed twice. Despite the previous renewals, Putin has recently voiced his reluctance to extend the agreement due to obstacles faced by Russia’s own grain exports.

Earlier on Friday, while speaking in Jakarta, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged Russia to extend the deal, warning that vulnerable countries would suffer without it. Blinken emphasized that developing nations, particularly those in the region, would face higher food prices and increased food scarcity.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also addressed the issue by sending a letter to Putin, advocating for the extension of the grain deal. Guterres supported the removal of hurdles hindering Russia’s fertilizer exports, another concern raised by Moscow.

Erdogan expressed hope that Guterres’s letter, combined with joint efforts between Turkey and Russia, would secure the extension of the grain corridor. Discussions and communication between relevant parties are ongoing to reach an agreement.

Stephane Dujarric, a spokesman for Guterres, confirmed that various messaging platforms such as WhatsApp and Signal were being utilized to exchange correspondence. However, a response from Putin to Guterres’s letter is still pending.

During a televised interview on Thursday, Putin argued that none of Moscow’s conditions for the deal had been met, casting doubt on its future. He emphasized that no progress had been made from their perspective and added, “We will think about what to do; we have a few more days.”

The grain deal, which Erdogan played a key role in brokering, has allowed Ukraine to transport over 32 million tonnes of grain while bypassing Russian warships in the Black Sea. The majority of these shipments have gone towards feeding people in developing countries across Africa, the Middle East, and other regions. A failure to renew the agreement would risk further escalation of food prices, exacerbating the current crisis.

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