No new grain deal unless West meets Russia's demands, Putin says


Russian President Vladimir Putin said Monday that the grain deal that allowed Ukraine to export grain safely through the Black Sea won’t be restored until the West meets its obligations to facilitate Russian agricultural exports.

Putin made the statement after talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who along with the UN brokered the deal seen as vital for global food supplies, especially in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

Ukraine and Russia are major suppliers of wheat, barley, sunflower oil and other goods that developing nations rely on.

But Russia refused to extend the deal in July, complaining that an agreement promising to remove obstacles to Russian exports of food and fertilizer hadn’t been honored.

It said restrictions on shipping and insurance hampered its agricultural trade even though it has shipped record amounts of wheat since last year.

Putin said that if those commitments were honored, Russia could return to the deal “within the nearest days.”

He also said that Russia is close to finalizing an agreement to provide free grain to six African countries. The Russian leader added that Russia will ship 1 million metric tons of cheap grain to Turkey for processing and delivery to poor countries.

Since Putin withdrew from the grain initiative, Erdogan has repeatedly pledged to renew arrangements that helped avoid a food crisis in parts of Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

(With newswires)

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