Ukraine says no concessions on Black Sea grain deal
Ukraine's Foreign Minister underlines that his country will not be making any concessions on the grain deal struck with Russia under Turkish mediation.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has said that Ukraine will not make any concessions to Russia on the Black Sea Grain Initiative, even though Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that he considers Moscow's expectations on the initiative to be "fair."
Earlier in the day, Erdogan said at a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin that he considers Moscow’s expectations on the grain initiative to be "fair," while expressing hope that the new package of proposals on the grain deal could contribute to its revival.
"Our position is fair. We should not be held hostage to Russia's blackmailing further on when Russia creates problems and then invites all of them to solve these problems," Kuleba said, as cited by Ukrainian news outlet Strana.ua.
He added that Ukrainian diplomats had made their position on the issue "clear" to Turkish officials before Erdogan's meeting with Putin in Sochi.
The Turkey- and UN-mediated Black Sea Grain Initiative, or the grain deal, which provided for a humanitarian corridor to allow exports of Ukrainian grain over the past year, expired on July 18, as Russia did not renew its participation in the deal. Moscow said that the deal's component of facilitating Russian grain and fertilizer exports had not been fulfilled.
Both Ukraine and Russia have since laid plans to start shipping grain outside the framework of the deal.
Russian authorities said that most of the grain was being delivered to Europe instead of countries that are in need the most.
The Russian leadership days later expressed during a Russia-Africa Summit that Russia remains committed to assisting Africa with its food and energy needs.
Russian Agriculture Minister Dmitry Patrushev said in August that Russian grain will be delivered to Africa free of charge in the near future.
"We will supply grain to African countries free of charge. So far, we are talking about six countries and supply volumes from 25,000 to 50,000 tons. I think that these deliveries will be carried out in the near future," Patrushev indicated.
West continues to block fulfillment of grain deal: Putin
The Russian leader mentioned that he and his Turkish counterpart discussed the grain deal and the conflict in Ukraine, among other issues.
Touching on the matter, Putin said while Russia has been engaged in ensuring safety at grain corridors, the other side, Ukraine, used them for terrorist attacks.
"While Russia clearly provided security guarantees for shipping under this [grain] deal, the other side used humanitarian corridors for terrorist attacks against Russian civilian and military facilities," he said.
Regarding the grain deal, Putin said the West continues to block the fulfillment of the part of the deal that stipulates obligations concerning Russia, adding that the other side deceived Moscow about the humanitarian nature of the agreement.
Nonetheless, Russia intends to continue exporting food and fertilizers, as well as to help stabilize prices and improve the situation in the global agricultural sector, Putin underscored.
He also made it clear that Moscow would be ready to revive the grain deal immediately after the fulfillment of part of the grain deal obligations concerning Russia.