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Russia says appreciates Turkey’s efforts on Black Sea grain deal

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Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin during a news conference in Moscow on Friday expressed appreciation for Turkey’s diplomatic efforts regarding an agreement on Ukrainian grain exports via the Black Sea, which Russia has declined to renew, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

Vershinin spoke about how Russia and Turkey are discussing the next steps following Russia’s withdrawal from the agreement signed with Ukraine in İstanbul in July 2022 under Turkish and United Nations mediation. He also highlighted that navigation safety in the Black Sea will be a topic for future discussions between the Russian and Turkish presidents.

Vershinin praised the relationship between Russia and Turkey as “advanced and good,” emphasizing their deep history and understanding of the regional situation. He commended the Joint Coordination Center in İstanbul as a vital part of the grain deal, which allowed over 32 million tons of Ukrainian grain to pass until recently safely.

The deputy minister clarified the separation of the Black Sea Grain Initiative and the Russia-UN memorandum. While the former was terminated after Russia declined to extend it, the latter remains valid for three years but can be canceled at any party’s discretion. He mentioned that the grain deal did not meet its stated humanitarian goal, with less than 3 percent of Ukrainian grain reaching Africa, contrary to the initial intention.

Regarding the resumption of the grain deal, Vershinin emphasized that Russia would support extending the deal when the Russia-UN memorandum is implemented. He also discouraged the continuation of grain shipments without Russia’s security guarantees, describing the prospect of military escort outside the grain deal as “dangerous and unachievable.”

Russia had suspended its involvement in the grain deal earlier in the week, citing a lack of implementation of the Russian part of the agreement, including the loosening of banking restrictions and the ability to ship its fertilizer. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has urged his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, to restore the deal and has also appealed to Western countries to consider Russia’s demands.

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