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Grain deal: Russia will reactivate agreement when West fulfills committments

Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan described as 'essential' the need to resume the agreement on the export of Ukrainian grain via the Black Sea.  His comments came during a visit to Moscow on Thursday. But his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov called for 'guarantees' Russian demands would be met before it would return to the deal.

Moscow withdrew from the important agreement for world food supplies in July, criticising in particular the fact that Russian grain and fertiliser exports were being hampered by Western sanctions.

"We reiterated our conviction that the resumption of the agreement will enable stability to be restored", Mr Fidan pleaded at a press conference with Mr Lavrov.

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Mr Lavrov explained that Russia would no longer be satisfied with "promises" for its own exports, but wanted "guarantees with a concrete result that can be put into practice tomorrow".

"In that case, implementation of (the agreement) will resume in full tomorrow", he said.

Mr Lavrov accused the West of "interfering" with exports of agricultural products and fertilisers from Russia which, like Ukraine, is a major world producer. He said he had discussed with his Turkish counterpart the possibility of supplying Russian grain to Turkey at knock-down prices.

He said Russian grain would then be shipped back to "the countries that need it most in the world".

AP Photo
A tractor works the field on a private farm in Zhurivka, Kyiv region, Ukraine, Thursday, Aug. 10, 2023. - AP Photo

Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Thursday that he had sent a letter to Sergei Lavrov with "a set of concrete proposals" to relaunch the agreement, which he considered "extremely important".

"We have taken account of Russia's requests", he promised, while saying that this time he wanted a "stable" agreement that would no longer risk being suspended.

Mr Lavrov replied that "there are still no guarantees" but "only promises" in this letter.

Ukraine is now dependent on land routes and a shallow river port for its deliveries, which considerably limits its grain export volumes.

Turkey is trying to revive the original agreement, in the hope of using it as a springboard for wider peace negotiations between Kyiv and Moscow.