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Putin says he will not renew the grain deal until the West meets his demands. The West says yes – The Denver Post

By Associated Press

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Monday that a landmark agreement allowing Ukraine to safely export grain through the Black Sea in the midst of war will not be reinstated until the West meets the demands of Moscow regarding its own agricultural exports.

Ukraine and its Western allies have rejected the Kremlin’s demands, calling them a ploy to promote their own interests.

Yet Putin’s remarks dashed hopes that his talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan could revive a deal seen as vital to global food supplies, particularly in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

Russia refused to extend the deal in July, complaining that a side deal promising to remove barriers to Russian food and fertilizer exports had not been met. He said restrictions on shipping and insurance were hampering his agricultural trade, despite shipping record amounts of wheat since last year.

Putin reiterated those complaints on Monday, while telling reporters that if those commitments were honored, Russia could return to the deal “within days.”

Erdogan also expressed hope that a breakthrough could happen soon. He said Turkey and the UN – which both brokered the original deal – have drawn up a new set of proposals to unblock the problem.

“We believe that we will reach a solution that will meet expectations in a short period of time,” Erdogan said during the press conference with Putin in the Russian resort of Sochi.

Earlier, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock lashed out at her, saying “Putin’s game with the grain deal is cynical”.

“It’s only because of Putin that freighters no longer enjoy free passage,” she told reporters in Berlin.

A lot of things depend on negotiation. Ukraine and Russia are major suppliers of wheat, barley, sunflower oil and other products that developing countries depend on.

Data from the Joint Coordination Center in Istanbul, which organized the shipments under the deal, shows that 57% of grain from Ukraine was destined for developing countries, with the main destination being China.

Grain prices spiked after Russia withdrew from the deal, but have since retreated, indicating there is no major crisis in the market at the moment.

But failure to revive the deal will have “drastic impacts” in countries like Somalia and Egypt that rely heavily on Black Sea grain, according to Galip Dalay, a research associate at the Chatham House think tank in London.

Putin is seeking some sanctions relief while engaged in a “narrative war,” Dalay said, because the Russian leader “doesn’t want to come across as a villain in the eyes of the global South” a consequence of this food insecurity.

Ukraine and its allies have often noted that Russia’s move left many developing countries in a pickle, as many of them were the beneficiaries of the grain.

Perhaps in a bid to address that accusation, Putin said on Monday that Russia was close to finalizing a deal to provide free grain to six African countries. Last month, it promised deliveries to Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Mali, Somalia, Eritrea and the Central African Republic.

The Russian leader added that the country would ship 1 million tons (1.1 million tonnes) of cheap grain to Turkey for processing and delivery to poor countries.

In addition to withdrawing from the grain deal, Russia has repeatedly attacked the Odessa region, where Ukraine’s main Black Sea port is located. Hours before the Sochi meeting, Kremlin forces launched a second barrage in two days on the area. The Ukrainian Air Force said it intercepted 23 of the 32 drones that targeted the Odessa and Dnipropetrovsk regions. He did not specify the damage caused by those who made it through.

Russia may be hoping to use its power over Ukrainian Black Sea exports as a bargaining chip to reduce Western economic sanctions.

Some companies are reluctant to do business with Russia because of these sanctions, even though Western allies have assured that food and fertilizers are exempt. Yet Moscow remains dissatisfied.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Monday urged Moscow to return to the deal, insisting that “there was no legal and political reason for Russia to withdraw from the deal”.

Monday’s talks took place against the backdrop of Ukraine’s recent counter-offensive against invading Kremlin forces.

In the latest development, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Sunday that Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov would be replaced this week. This work requires “new approaches,” Zelenskyy said, without elaborating. Reznikov posted a photo of his resignation letter on Monday.

Putin and Erdogan – authoritarian leaders who have both been in power for more than two decades – are said to have a close relationship, strengthened following the failed coup against Erdogan in 2016, when Putin was the first major leader to offer his support.

The Turkish president maintained them during the 18 months of war in Ukraine. Turkey did not join Western sanctions against Russia after its invasion, becoming a major trading partner and logistics hub for Russia’s foreign trade.

At the same time, Turkey, a member of NATO, has also supported Ukraine, sending it weapons, meeting Zelensky and supporting Kiev’s attempt to join the Western alliance.

Russia, meanwhile, has taken steps to strengthen its military ties with North Korea. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who visited Pyongyang in July, said on Monday the two countries could hold joint military exercises.

US National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson noted that Shoigu had sought on his trip to persuade North Korea to sell artillery munitions to Russia.

The United States has reason to believe that North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un “expects these discussions to continue” and “includes leadership-level diplomatic engagement in Russia,” Watson said Monday.

Another US official, who was not authorized to address the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity, said the United States expected Kim to visit Russia within the month. . The official said the United States did not know exactly where or when the meeting would take place, but that the Pacific port city of Vladivostok would be a likely possibility given its relative proximity to North Korea.

The White House reported last week that it had intelligence that Putin and Kim exchanged letters after Shoigu’s visit. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the letters were “rather superficial” but negotiations between Russia and North Korea on an arms sale were moving forward.


Associated Press writer Matthew Lee in Washington contributed to this story.


This version fixed the fact that Shoigu visited Pyongyang in July and not last month.


Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine: https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine


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