Türkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has arrived in the Russian city of Sochi to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, СNN Türk reported. The main topic of the negotiations is likely to be the potential restoration of the Black Sea Grain Initiative.
According to Reuters, Erdoğan said Ukraine’s grain corridor issue is the most important in his talks with his Russian counterpart.
“I believe that the message at the press conference after the meeting will be an important step for the whole world, especially for African countries,” Erdoğan said.
Putin told Erdoğan that Russia is open to discussing the Black Sea grain deal.
“I know that you intend to raise the issue of the grain deal. We are open to negotiations on this question,” Putin said, according to Reuters.
- On 17 July 2023, the Russian Federation withdrew from the Black Sea grain initiative, an UN-brokered agreement to unblock Ukraine’s ports and export its grain, and stated that it would not guarantee that it will not attack civilian vessels after that date. The Ukrainian defense ministry mirrored Russia’s threats to ships at sea.
- After that, Russia launched massive missile attacks on Odesa and the region with missiles and drones, destroying ports, granaries, residential buildings, and other facilities.
- NATO has condemned the Russian attacks but has thus far only vowed to increase surveillance. Meanwhile, Ukraine has changed the course of its grain corridor so that it stays within Romanian waters. Reportedly, the US declined Ukrainian requests to escort commercial vessels in the waters of NATO countries to ensure that the grain corridor keeps functioning.
- The Institute for Study of War has observed that Russia seems intent on enforcing a de-facto naval blockade of the Black Sea by intimidating civilian vessels in it. Particularly, a Russian warship told a ship that sailing to Ukraine could get it treated as a military target, according to an intercept shared by Ukrainian officials on 28 July.
- In it, a Russian ship used an open channel to contact a ship passing near one of the Ukrainian ports. The Russian ship asked about the ship’s affiliation, what cargo it was carrying, and whether there were any weapons on board. Then, it stated that any transportation to Ukraine is considered by the Russian Federation as potential transportation of military cargo and told that the country under whose flag the ship is flying will be considered by Russia to be involved in the war.