At the end of Russian-Turkish talks, Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan held a joint press conference on September 4, according to a Kremlin press service dispatch obtained by Kasparov.Ru. The information voiced implied that the grain deal would not be extended.
According to the transcript of the press conference, Putin spoke about the growth of trade turnover with Turkey to $62 billion, the construction of the first nuclear power plant Akkuyu by Rosatom in Turkey, and cooperation in the gas sector. Russia supplied 21.5 billion cubic meters of gas to Turkey through the gas pipelines “Turkish Stream” and “Blue Stream” in 2022, for 8 months of 2023 (January – August) – about 10 billion cubic meters (a clear decline in supplies. – Kasparov.Ru). Russia and Turkey intend to create a regional gas hub in Turkey for “trading and transfer of purchased gas”.
The main topic of the talks was Russia’s termination of the so-called Black Sea initiative on grain exports from Ukrainian ports since July 18. Putin said that the Russian Federation was forced to take this decision because of the failure to implement the agreements in terms of removing grain and fertilizer exports from sanctions, resuming the supply of agricultural machinery and spare parts to Russia, removing the problem with logistics and freight of ships, banking and insurance of food supplies. “The Russian president” said that all these positions were in the agreement, although in reality they were set out in the memorandum attached by Russia to the agreement, which is in fact a declaration.
Putin claimed that the West had been deceived about the humanitarian goals of the “Black Sea Initiative” to assist developing countries, since more than 70% of the 32.8 million tons of cargo exported from Ukraine went to wealthy countries, primarily the European Union.
Erdogan said in his speech that this is a normal practice: of the 14% of grain that Turkey received under the deal, 6% was sent to the poorest countries, while the rest remained in the country.
Putin said that Russia is expecting a good grain harvest – about 130 million tons (in 2022 there were 158 million tons), export potential – 60 million tons, of which six poorest African countries are planned to supply 25–50 thousand tons each. An agreement has been reached that one million tons of grain will be exported and processed in Turkey into flour with financial support from Qatar, Putin said nothing about the remaining 58.7 tons of potential.
The journalists allowed at the press conference did not ask questions about why Russia seeks to destroy the infrastructure of Ukrainian ports and its grain hangars. Apparently, in order to exclude competitors from the grain market.
Putin’s decision was criticized by German Foreign Minister Annalena Berbock. “Putin is playing a cynical game using the grain deal”, she said, calling Erdogan’s efforts to renew the grain agreement important. “It is only because of Putin that cargo ships once again do not have free passage through the Black Sea. By doing so, Russia is exacerbating global hunger”, Berbock emphasized.