On Saturday, the European Union criticized Russia for “disdaining” its withdrawal from the Black Sea grain export agreement, describing the offer to export one million tons of grain to African countries as a “parody of generosity.”
In a speech during the annual G20 summit in New Delhi, European Council President Charles Michel said that the grain agreement provided countries at risk with more than 30 times the amount that Russia offered to Africa.
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Michel said in a speech regarding the grain agreement addressed to Moscow’s representative at the summit, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, “What a mockery… You did not accept this.”
“Not only did you decide to withdraw from this Black Sea (grain export) agreement, but at the same time you are attacking the port infrastructure,” he said.
He added, “You are closing the ports that allow crossing the Black Sea, and even crossing the Danube River.”
Russia withdrew from the agreement in July, a year after Turkey and the United Nations brokered it, as it complained that its food and fertilizer exports faced obstacles and that Ukrainian grain did not reach sufficient quantities to needy countries.
“What made the situation worse is that Russia is offering to (export) one million tons of grain to African countries in a mockery of generosity,” Michel said.
He added, “What a mockery and lack of respect for African countries,” and that the agreement to export grains through the Black Sea has led to the export of more than 30 million tons so far, most of them to the most vulnerable countries.
In Moscow, the Kremlin said it was sticking to its conditions for returning to the agreement.
Earlier today, two informed sources told Reuters that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan held talks with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida during the summit in New Delhi regarding efforts to revive the agreement.
The two sources who spoke to Reuters on the sidelines of the summit on condition of anonymity declined to provide further details.
Erdogan said earlier this week that reviving the agreement might be possible, and urged Ukraine to show flexibility in its negotiating position facing Russia in talks aimed at reviving the agreement and exporting more grain to Africa instead of Europe.
But on Friday, Ukraine opposed the idea of easing sanctions on Russia in order to revive the agreement.
The embassies of Turkey and Japan in New Delhi have not yet responded to Reuters’ email requests for comment.
The Japanese Foreign Ministry said earlier that the Foreign Minister will meet his Ukrainian counterpart in Kiev today.