Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin said Moscow appreciates Türkiye’s position and diplomatic efforts on the Black Sea grain deal.
Speaking at a news conference in Moscow on Friday, Vershinin said Russia and Türkiye are exchanging views on how to act after the former’s withdrawal from the agreement.
Vershinin said contacts at the highest level are being worked out, adding that the issue of providing navigation security in the Black Sea will be on the agenda of future communications between the Russian and Turkish presidents.
The diplomat described as “advanced and good” relations between the two neighboring states, which have “a deep history, with a deep understanding of the situation in the region.”
He said the Joint Coordination Center in Istanbul was “an important part” of the deal, which was brokered by the UN and Türkiye last year and ensured the safe passage of more than 32 million tons of Ukrainian grain.
“I have held consultations both in Moscow and Ankara and highly appreciate the potential, knowledge and professional skills of Turkish colleagues,” he noted.
The official said he expects Moscow and Ankara “will inevitably continue to communicate in order to achieve results that will benefit both Russia and Türkiye and regional stability.”
Resumption of the grain deal
Vershinin urged not to mix two parts of the package agreement — the Black Sea Grain Initiative and the Russia-UN memorandum.
He said the Black Sea Grain Initiative was concluded for 120 days and then extended by agreement of the parties, adding that when Russia did not give its consent for further extension, the deal was terminated.
Meanwhile, he said, the Russia-UN memorandum was signed for three years, and continues to be valid, but can be terminated at will of any side.
According to the deputy minister, the grain deal stepped away from the stated goal of humanitarian supplies to countries in need.
Citing the UN data, he pointed out that instead of shipments of wheat to Africa, the bulkers were delivering corn to Europe, of all grain transported from Ukraine less than 3% reached African shores.
Russia will be ready to support the extension of the deal when there is progress in the implementation of the Russia-UN memorandum, the diplomat stressed.
Vershinin also warned against trying to continue shipments without Russia’s security guarantees, saying the option of a military escort of ships with food from Ukraine outside the grain deal is “dangerous and unrealizable.”
Russia on Monday suspended its participation in the July 2022 deal, saying the Russian part of the agreement was not implemented. It had sought the loosening of banking restrictions and the ability to ship its fertilizer before returning to the agreement.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has urged his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin for restoration of the deal and also called on Western countries to consider Russia’s demands.