SOCHI/TASS/. Russia may return to the grain deal if its demands are fulfilled, and it does not view the shipment of food to the poorest countries in partnership with Qatar and Turkey as an alternative, Russian President Vladimir Putin said during a joint press conference with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Following a three-hour meeting - the first between the two leaders since the beginning of this year - Putin disclosed that a roadmap on the establishment of a gas hub has already been sent to Turkey and noted that the Ukrainian counteroffensive has "failed, not stalled." Meanwhile, Erdogan reiterated his readiness to take part in the settlement of the Ukrainian conflict, announced new proposals on resurrection of the grain deal and invited the Russian President to visit turkey.
The grain deal
Russia was "simply forced" to abandon the grain deal, Putin said: the West continues to block the deal’s implementation in regard to Russia’s agricultural exports and "to put it mildly, deceived" Moscow regarding the agreement’s main goal.
In addition, Ukraine used humanitarian corridors in the Black Sea "for terror attacks against Russia's civilian and military facilities." "This cannot be tolerated any longer," Putin said.
Putin debunked claims that food prices spiked because of Russia’s withdrawal from the agreement: "It is obvious that the cessation of the deal’s implementation did not affect global food markets. […] Grain prices continue to decrease, and there is no physical shortage of food."
At the same time, Moscow "is ready to consider the option of resurrecting the grain deal," but only after the restrictions on its own agricultural exports are withdrawn, the Russian leader noted.
"I believe that we will be able to find a solution shortly that will meet Turkey’s expectations," he added.
Million tons of grain for poor countries
Russia will ship one million tons of grain at discounted prices for processing in Turkey, where it will be shipped to the poorest countries for free, Putin said, adding that Russia and Turkey expect Qatar’s aid on this matter.
The Russian president specified that Moscow does not view this project "as an alternative to the Black Sea grain deal," because Ukraine, which "has its own interests," was a party to it: "thus, this is not a replacement, but this, of course, would become a great contribution to solving the food problems of African nations."
In addition, Russia is close to implementation of the agreement on free shipment of grain to six African states, which was announced during the Russia-Africa Summit, Putin said.
Erdogan stated that Ankara is "ready to do everything necessary:" "We agree to carry out this work. We agreed that we will be able to send Russian grain, processed into flour, to poor countries."
The gas hub
Russia’s Gazprom provided the Turkish side with a draft roadmap on the establishment of a gas hub in Turkey, Putin said.
"The agenda includes the establishment of a joint working group, negotiation of the legal framework for the hub’s operation, of schemes for trading and delivery of purchased gas," he specified, expressing for a speedy conclusion to negotiations.
Russia, the president underscored, "has always been and will be a responsible gas supplier:" last year, Russia supplied 21 billion cubic meters of gas to Turkey, and over 10 billion cubic meters in the eight months of 2023.
On ‘counteroffensive’ and Ukrainian settlement
The Ukrainian counteroffensive "has failed, not stalled," Putin stated, expressing hope that "it will remain this way."
Russia, the president noted, "has never rejected negotiations:" "And we do not reject them now."
However, new initiatives on a Ukrainian settlement were not negotiated with Moscow: "Therefore we do not see anything new."
Turkey is ready to act as a mediator," Erdogan said. "We, just like before, are ready to do everything necessary and act as a mediator."
He also called on Ukraine to "soften its approach to make joint steps with Russia" under the grain deal.