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Russia negotiating new grain deal with Turkey, Qatar: report

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After walking away from a landmark Ukrainian grain agreement, Russia is discussing with Turkey and Qatar the establishment of a new grain export arrangement directed primarily at African countries, Ukrainska Pravda reported on Saturday, citing an exclusive report by the German Bild daily’s Russian language edition.

The previous month saw Russia’s decision to withdraw from the UN-backed grain agreement that ensured safe passage of Ukrainian grain in the Black Sea. Turkey, utilizing its favorable ties with both Moscow and Kyiv, played a key role in mediating the deal, which stood as the only major accord reached between the warring parties.

The emerging deal, as detailed in Bild, facilitates exportation of Russian grain. The current structure of the proposed arrangement puts Turkey in charge of its organization, while Qatar will be the chief financial backer.

Citing correspondence between Russia and Turkey, Bild Russian indicates that Moscow had communicated its intent to exit the original grain deal to Ankara. Current negotiations have seen Turkey leaning towards a resurrection of the initial agreement, to continue grain supplies from Ukraine along with Russian grain. Ankara’s proposal also emphasizes operations under the auspices of the UN.

Bild suggests the possibility of this deal being sealed as soon as this weekend in Budapest. With Rustam Minnikhanov, the president of Russia’s Tatarstan Republic, already in Budapest and a pending visit by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, all eyes are on the Hungarian capital.

Ukrainska Pravda points out that it was at the insistence of the Hungarian government that Minnikhanov was not added to the EU sanctions list in May 2023, so he could enter Hungary.

Minnikhanov is believed to be meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Sunday, the same day that Erdoğan is due to visit Hungary. Bild speculates that the deal on Russian grain exports could be finalized at that time.

The ramifications of such a deal could be profound for Kyiv, according to Ukrainian media outlets. If realized, it might allow Russia to legitimate grain exports from temporarily occupied Ukrainian territories while restricting Ukraine’s ability to target Russian ships in the Black Sea.

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