Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday and said Moscow would return to the Black Sea grain deal if sanctions against Russia’s agricultural industry are lifted.
“I would like to confirm again our position of principle: we will be ready to consider the opportunity of reviving the grain deal. I told [Erdogan] today again, and will do this immediately after all arrangements set in it on lifting of restrictions on Russian agricultural exports are fulfilled,” Putin said after talks with the Turkish leader in Sochi.
One of Russia’s main demands to revive the deal is reconnecting the Russian Agricultural Bank (Rosselkhozbank) to the SWIFT payment system. A few days before the Putin-Erdogan meeting, the Turkish news agency Anadolu reported that the UN proposed reconnecting Rosselkhozbank’s European subsidiary to SWIFT and unfreezing assets of Russian companies producing fertilizers in Europe.
But easing sanctions would require action from the US and its European allies, and the Western powers are denying that sanctions are impeding Russian exports. For his part, Erdogan said after the meeting that he expects an agreement on the matter to be reached soon. “As Turkey, we believe that we will reach a solution that will meet the expectations in a short time,” the Turkish leader said.
In the meantime, Putin said Russia would export one million tons of grain to Turkey, where it will be processed and then shipped to poorer nations for free.
Putin also reiterated his reasons for ending Russia’s participation in the grain deal, saying the West did not live up to its end of the deal of facilitating Russian agricultural exports. He also accused Ukraine of using the humanitarian corridors set up by the deal “for terror attacks against Russia’s civilian and military facilities.” Since the grain deal was suspended in July, Russia has been bombarding Ukraine’s Black Sea and Danube River ports.