Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan will meet in Tehran on Tuesday to discuss Ukrainian grain export mechanisms, a Kremlin source said on Monday.
The two leaders will meet in the Iranian capital as the conflict in Ukraine massively hampers shipments from one of the world’s largest exporters of wheat and other grains, raising fears of global food shortages.
“Firstly, we are ready to continue work in this direction, secondly, this issue is going to be discussed by the presidents,” presidential adviser Yuri Ushakov told Russian news agencies.
The Russian Ministry of Defense indicated on Friday that a “final document” on the subject publicized by the UN would soon be ready to release some 20 million tonnes of grain exports currently blocked as well as those of cereals and fertilizers. Russians currently held under Western sanctions. .
According to Ouchakov, a coordination center must be opened in Istanbul allowing the routing of these exports via the Black Sea.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar confirmed for his part on Monday that “an agreement in principle … has been reached” between Ukraine and Russia to establish a secure maritime corridor allowing the transport of cereals.
Turkey – a NATO member on good terms with Russia and Ukraine – has spearheaded efforts to resume grain deliveries.
An official Turkish source who requested anonymity said another meeting could take place “on Wednesday or Thursday”, after the talks in Tehran.
The news that Putin and Erdogan will meet came on a day when EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell warned that Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian ports was threatening supplies for countless thousands of people vulnerable to starvation. .
Borrell dubbed the problem “a life-or-death problem for many human beings.”
Russian and Ukrainian negotiators were already due to meet UN and Turkish diplomats in Istanbul on Wednesday to discuss a possible deal to end the blockade of Ukrainian ports for months after the February invasion.
Russia captured some Black Sea ports and bombarded others, including the main grain export outlet of the city of Odessa. Ukraine has mined the approaches to some of its ports to protect them from Russian attacks.
Ukrainian farms are a major source of grain for the global market, especially in the Middle East and Africa, where food supplies are extremely limited.