Russian President Vladimir Putin reiterated his position that Moscow would be ready to return to the Black Sea grain export deal once Russian demands related to the deal are met, while his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed his opposition to any alternatives to the agreement, at the end of the meeting that the two leaders had today in Sochi.

“We will be ready to consider the possibility of reviving the grain agreement, and I said it again today to Mr. President – we will do it once all the agreements on the lifting of restrictions on the export of Russian agricultural products are fully implemented,” Putin told the joint press conference he gave with Erdogan after the talks they had.

At the same time, the Russian president repeated his criticism of the West regarding the agreement.

Russia decided in July to withdraw from the so-called Black Sea Grains Initiative, a deal crucial to global food supplies, complaining that the availability of its own agricultural products and fertilizers on the international market continues to be blocked due to Western sanctions. Since then, Moscow has threatened to attack ships departing from Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea.

While Russian food and fertilizer exports are not subject to Western sanctions imposed after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Moscow says restrictions on payments, logistics and insurance are hampering shipments.

Russia and Ukraine are two of the world’s major agricultural producers and major players in wheat, barley, corn, canola, rapeseed, sunflower seed and sunflower oil markets.

“The West continues to block the supply of grain and fertilizers from the Russian Federation to world markets,” he said, adding that the West had “deceived” Russia regarding the deal.

He went on to say that Western claims that Russia triggered a food crisis by leaving the deal are false, as prices did not rise when Moscow left the deal. “There is no shortage of food,” said the Russian head of state.

For his part, Erdogan expressed his opposition to “alternatives” to the grain deal, saying Ankara was preparing “new proposals” with the UN to revive the Black Sea Grains Initiative, brokered by Turkey and the UN in the summer of 2022 with the aim of allowing grain exports through Ukrainian Black Sea ports.

“Alternative proposals on the agenda cannot provide a sustainable and secure model based on cooperation between the parties, such as the Black Sea Initiative,” the Turkish president said referring to the deal. At the same time he emphasized that: “we have prepared a new series of proposals in consultation with the UN. I believe it is possible to achieve results.”

In addition, Erdogan emphasized that Ukraine should relax its negotiating stance towards Russia in the talks for the revival of the agreement.

“Ukraine must become more flexible specifically in its approaches so that it is possible to adopt common steps with Russia,” he stressed, adding that most grain should be destined for Africa and not for European countries.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Ndyro Kuleba said today that he expects Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelesny to speak with his Turkish counterpart after the Erdogan-Putin meeting in Sochi.

The Russian president said his country would soon deliver free grain to six African countries – as promised – at the end of July. “We are ready to conclude agreements with six African states that we intend to supply free grain within the next few weeks,” he said.