Sun, 04 Dec 2022

The recipients will be the likes of Djibouti, Somalia, and Sudan, Ankara says

The presidents of Russia and Türkiye agreed in a recent phone call on sending grain to the world's poorest nations free of charge, the Turkish leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has revealed. He made the remarks while delivering a speech to businesspeople in Istanbul on Friday.

"In my phone call with Vladimir Putin, he said 'Let's send this grain to countries such as Djibouti, Somalia and Sudan for free' - and we agreed," Erdogan recounted, without providing any exact details on how such a scheme might work. Moscow has so far not issued any official comments on the Turkish president's statement.

The proposal comes amid difficulties in the deal facilitating grain exports from Ukraine. The agreement was initially negotiated back in July and was established through a set of agreements involving Russia, Ukraine, Türkiye, and the UN. It was designed to help unlock agricultural exports via the Black Sea from Ukrainian ports, which had been blocked due to the ongoing conflict between Moscow and Kiev.

Russia briefly suspended its participation in the deal following an attack on the ships of its Black Sea Fleet. Moscow blamed Kiev for the incident, claiming it had used the grain corridor to launch sea drones at the vessels. Ukraine, however, has denied involvement.

Moscow returned to the deal after receiving written security guarantees from Kiev that it will not use the corridor for military purposes. On Wednesday, Putin said that if Kiev breaks its promises, Russia reserves the right to withdraw from the agreement for good. At the same time, the Russian president emphasized that Moscow was ready to supply grain to the poorest nations free of charge.

"Even in the case of leaving the grain deal, Russia is ready to supply grain to the poorest countries - this is about 4% [of total volume]. If Ukraine violates its obligations, we will supply the entire volume of grain that was intended for them free of charge," Putin explained.

Moscow had previously criticized the distribution of grain flowing from Ukraine. Back in September, Putin said that only some 60,000 tons of grain - around 3% of the total volume exported by Kiev under the deal - headed to "the poorest countries for UN food programs," namely Yemen and Djibouti.


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