Conflicts & War

Russia, Turkey to supply free flour to needy countries

Moscow, Apr 27 (EFE).- Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that he and Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed on a plan to supply free flour to nations suffering from food insecurity.

Regions in the Global South have experienced shortages of grain and fertilizer amid the disruption of shipping in the Black Sea spurred by Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

In July 2022, the United Nations and Turkey brokered an accord between Moscow and Kyiv, the Black Sea Grain Initiative, to create a safe corridor for transport of grain, fertilizer, and ammonia.

The deal was renewed last November, but Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said this week that he was not optimistic about another renewal, reiterating Moscow’s complaints about the small volume of grain going to poor countries and the failure of Western nations to allow sanctions exemptions for fertilizer shipments from Russia.

“We are developing Erdogan’s initiative on the free shipment to the world’s neediest countries of flour milled by Turkish industry from Russian grain,” Putin said by videoconference during the inauguration of Turkey’s first nuclear power plant.

He revealed that during a telephone conversation earlier Thursday, he and the Turkish president decided to increase bilateral agricultural change as well as to coordinate efforts on “international food security.”

Putin promised free grain to African nations if the Black Sea Grain Initiative collapses.

The Russian president received a letter this week from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres proposing an extension of the initiative to allow exports of grain from both Ukraine and Russia as well as Russian fertilizer.

Guterres, according to the UN, “took note” of concerns expressed by Lavrov in a meeting on Monday and shared with the Russian a report on progress in addressing the issues raised by Moscow.

In a press conference Tuesday at UN Headquarters, Lavrov acknowledged “honest efforts” by Guterres to clear away obstacles to exports of Russian fertilizer.

But Moscow’s top diplomat said dozens of ships carrying some 200 million kg (220,000 tons) of Russian fertilizer were stuck in European ports due to the sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union in response to Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine. EFE mos/dr

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