Cyprus Mail

Putin to Erdogan: Resumption of grain deal can be considered after Sevastopol attack probe

commercial vessels including vessels which are part of black sea grain deal wait to pass the bosphorus strait off the shores of yenikapi in istanbul
Commercial vessels including vessels which are part of Black Sea grain deal wait to pass the Bosphorus strait off the shores of Yenikapi during a misty morning in Istanbul, Turkey, October 31, 2022. REUTERS/Umit Bektas

President Vladimir Putin told his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan in a phone call on Tuesday that Russia could consider resuming a deal allowing grain exports from Ukrainian seaports only after completion of an investigation of drone attacks on the Crimean naval port of Sevastopol.

The export deal was agreed by Russia and Ukraine and brokered by Turkey and the United Nations in July to ease a world hunger crisis caused in part by Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, a major grain producer, and an earlier blockade of its ports. It is due to expire on Nov. 19.

Russia suspended its participation on Saturday, saying it was responding to a drone attack on Moscow’s fleet in Crimea that it blamed on Ukraine. Kyiv has not claimed responsibility and denies using the grain programme’s security corridor for military purposes.

In a statement, the Kremlin said a resumption might be considered only after “a detailed investigation into the circumstances of this incident, and also after receipt of real guarantees from Kyiv of strict observance of the Istanbul agreements, in particular on the non-use of the humanitarian corridor for military purposes“.

It also said Putin had reminded Erdogan of “the failure to fulfil the second part of the package agreements – to unblock the export of Russian agricultural products and fertilisers to world markets”.

While these goods are not subject to the Western sanctions imposed in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Russian producers have lost access to the Baltic Sea ports that they had used for exports, and to a pipeline carrying ammonia to the Ukrainian Black Sea port of Pivdennyi, known as Yuzhny in Russian.

In its readout of Tuesday’s call, the Turkish presidency said Erdogan had told Putin he was “sure a solution-oriented cooperation will be established on this issue”.

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