Russia and Turkey agreed during talks in Ankara today, Friday, on the need to remove obstacles to ensure facilitation of Russian fertilizer and grain exports, and to pave the way for extending the agreement to export Ukrainian grain shipments through the Black Sea beyond next month.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he had discussed with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu the “failure” to implement terms of the deal.
He added that Russia could work outside it if Western countries maintained what he described as obstacles to agricultural exports, which he said were getting more complicated.
The agreement was reached, mediated by the United Nations, last July to ensure the safe passage of grain and other primary commodities from Ukraine’s ports in light of the Russian naval blockade.
Last month, Russia said it would extend the agreement for 60 days, despite efforts by the United Nations, Ukraine and Turkey to extend it by 120 days.
In a joint press conference, Cavusoglu said that his country is committed to extending the agreement beyond mid-May.
“We attach importance to the continuation of the agreement … not only for the sake of Russian and Ukrainian grain and fertilizer exports, but also to stop the global food crisis,” Cavusoglu added.
“We also agree that obstacles to the export of Russian grain and fertilizers must be removed. Issues must be addressed in order to extend the grain agreement,” he added.
Lavrov stated that he discussed with his Turkish counterpart the grain agreement, the possibility of establishing a gas center in Turkey, and the conflict in Syria and Ukraine.
Turkey, a NATO ally, has taken it upon itself to play a mediating role between Kiev and Moscow in the 13-month-old conflict, brokering a grain deal with the United Nations, the only significant diplomatic achievement so far.
Facilitating the export of Russian food and fertilizer shipments is a key aspect of the agreement, but Moscow complains that its exports continue to be blocked.
Although Russian food and fertilizer exports are not subject to Western sanctions, Moscow says restrictions on payments, logistics and insurance are an impediment.
Lavrov noted that Russian grain and fertilizer exports have been affected by restrictions on access to insurance services and the SWIFT financial system.