Putin Won’t Relent Until Demands Are Met

Russia won’t re-up the landmark grain deal that allows Ukraine to safely export grain through the Black Sea until certain demands are met.
On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said his country wouldn’t restore the Black Sea grain deal until western countries relent and meet demands Russia has for its agricultural exports.

Thus far, the West and Ukraine have dismissed the demands that Russia has made as a simple ploy that seeks to advance their own interests. That being said, the remarks that Putin made on Monday destroyed any hope that talks that he held with Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the president of Turkey, could lead to the agreement being revived.

The grain deal is seen by many as essential for the global supply of food, especially in Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

Russia and Ukraine had entered an agreement that allowed Ukraine to export the grain through the Black Sea, but in July, Russia said they wouldn’t be extending the deal. That has meant that there is essentially a blockade in place for the grain that Ukraine wants to export.

Russia said they wouldn’t be extending the deal because a similar agreement that promised to remove all obstacles that are in place that block Russia from exporting its own fertilizer and food haven’t been honored. Western countries have put restrictions on Russia’s insurance and shipping, which they claim have hampered the agricultural trade.

Despite these claims, though, Russia has exported a record amount of wheat over the last year.

During Monday’s comments, Putin reiterated the complaints he has about the lack of an agreement for his country’s exports. He told reporters that Russia would return to the Black Sea grain deal “within days” should the commitments to Russia be honored.

For his part, Erdogan said that he had hoped that a new breakthrough in the impasse would emerge in the near future. The original deal was brokered by the U.N. and Turkey, and both sides have put together another package of proposals that would resolve the issue.

As he said at a news conference that he held in Sochi, Russia, with Putin:

“I believe that we will reach a solution that will meet the expectations in a short time.”

Erdogan may be optimistic, but the leaders of other western countries are not so happy with Putin and Russia. Annalena Baerbock, the foreign minister of Germany, for instance, said that Putin’s “game with the grain agreement is cynical.”

Speaking to reporters in Berlin, she said:

“It’s only because of Putin that the freighters don’t have free passage again.”

Negotiations are very vital for not just Ukraine and Russia, but for many other countries as well. Those two countries, after all, are major suppliers of sunflower oil, barley, wheat and plenty of other items on which many developing nations rely.

For instance, 57% of Ukrainian grain was sent to developing nations, according to the Joint Coordination Center in Istanbul. The top importing country of that grain was China.