Russia to push alternative grain deal to Turkey

Under the plan, Moscow would send a million tonnes of discounted grain to Turkey, with financial support from Qatar

A damaged grain terminal of a port on the Danube River in the Odesa region, southern Ukraine. EPA
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Russia will set out an alternative to the Black Sea grain deal, which was struck to keep food supplies moving to some of the world’s most vulnerable people, when Turkey’s Foreign Minister visits Moscow on Thursday.

Under the plan, Moscow would send a million tonnes of grain to Turkey at a discounted price, with financial support from Qatar. The grain would be processed in Turkey and sent to countries most in need, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.

“We consider this project as the optimal working alternative to the Black Sea deal,” it said.

Turkey, a Nato member that has friendly relations with Russia, helped negotiate the UN-backed deal to ship grain from Ukrainian ports across the Black Sea to avert a global food shortage – the only major agreement signed since the outbreak of the war.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his Turkish counterpart Hakan Fidan will discuss the proposal by Moscow on Thursday and Friday. The Kremlin said on Wednesday that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would also visit Russia soon.

The Russian statement added that Mr Lavrov would restate Moscow's position that following the collapse of the grain deal, it would consider all ships heading to Ukraine as potentially carrying military cargo.

Ukraine and Russia are both major exporters of grain, and the deal initially helped to bring down global food prices and provide relief to poor countries.

Moscow withdrew from the agreement last month, citing the UN's non-compliance with provisions aimed at easing Russia's exports of agricultural products and fertiliser.

Ukrainian ports have since come under attack, with Russia warning it considers any ships in the Black Sea as potential military targets. Kyiv has also attacked Russian targets around the Black Sea.

Turkey played a key role in mediating between Moscow and Kyiv to secure the grain deal.

Although Turkey is a member of Nato, which opposes Russia's invasion and whose members have provided arms and support to Ukraine, Mr Erdogan has used his country's good relations with both sides to take on the mediator role.

Updated: August 30, 2023, 5:00 PM