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Turkey, Russia discuss Ukraine grain export deal after Moscow halts pact

The conversation between the top Russian and Turkish diplomats comes as Ankara is amping up its efforts to salvage the deal critical for global food markets.
The UN-chartered vessel MV Valsamitis is loaded to deliver 25,000 tonnes of Ukrainian wheat to Kenya and 5,000 tonnes to Ethiopia, at the port of Chornomorsk, east of Odessa on the Black Sea coast, Feb. 18, 2023.

ANKARA — Turkey’s Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan spoke with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov by phone on Tuesday as Ankara continued to ramp up its efforts to convince Moscow to return the critical deal that allows Ukrainian grain to reach world markets.

Ukraine, dubbed as the world’s bread basket, is a key country also for the World Food Program’s hunger relief program. The United Nations agency shipped more than 725,000 tons to support humanitarian operations around the world since the Black Sea Grain Initiative’s launch.

Russia and Ukraine signed separate deals with the United Nations and Turkey as part of the Black Sea Grain Initiative in July 2022, five months after the war between the two countries broke out. The deal was extended twice, but Russia refused to extend the deal again, arguing that the deal failed to help Russian exports to reach world markets due to Western sanctions on Russia.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov announced on Monday that Russia would not extend the deal until a series of conditions Moscow tabled are met. The withdrawal means Russia will no longer guarantee the safe passage of Ukrainian products laden ships in the Black Sea. The deal expired on Monday, increasing grain prices globally. 

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