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Erdoğan says Russia wants to maintain Ukraine grain deal

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Monday that Russia wants to extend the Ukraine grain deal, despite Kremlin comments to the contrary, Agence France-Presse reported.

“I think that despite today’s statement, my friend [Russian President Vladimir] Putin wants to continue the agreement” that allows the export of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea, which is due to expire at 2100 GMT.

The Kremlin on Monday said it was exiting a major agreement allowing Ukraine grain exports hours after drones struck Russia’s only bridge connecting its mainland to the annexed Crimea peninsula.

Moscow said the deadly Kerch bridge attack had nothing to do with its withdrawal and for months has complained about the implementation of the pact, which was designed to ease fears of food shortages in vulnerable countries.

“The grain deal has ceased. As soon as the Russian part [of the agreements] are fulfilled, the Russian side will immediately return to the grain deal,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, adding that the move was not linked to the strike.

The announcement came hours after drones struck the sole road link connecting Russia to the annexed Crimea peninsula, a key supply line for Russian forces resupplying frontlines in the south of Ukraine.

Kyiv’s navy and SBU security service carried out a “special operation” using seaborne drones, a security service source told AFP.

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