MOSCOW (Reuters) – The Kremlin said on Friday that it expected President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan to discuss the implementation of a deal on Ukrainian grain exports, which both have criticised, when they meet in Uzbekistan next week.
Putin said on Wednesday that Russia and the developing world had been “cheated”, and that he would seek amendments to the terms of the deal, which expires in November, before it is extended.
“A conversation between Putin and Erdogan is possible and necessary. We expect it will take place in Samarkand,” Peskov said, referring to next week’s Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Uzbekistan.
The July deal to unlock Ukrainian grain exports from its Black Sea ports was brokered by Turkey and the United Nations. It remains the only significant diplomatic breakthrough in the six-month-old conflict.
Peskov on Friday repeated Putin’s assertions that the grain deal was unfair on the poorest countries because most shipments were being sent to Europe and other rich countries.
“The agreements are being implemented, but the way they are being implemented does not give any specific benefits to poor countries,” Peskov said.
A U.N. spokesperson for the Black Sea Grain Initiative said on Wednesday that 30% of the grain and other foodstuffs that had left Ukraine had gone to low and lower-middle income countries.
But the United Nations has also said the export deal is a commercial – not humanitarian – operation, driven by the market.
Many of the 100 or so ships that have left Ukraine had been stranded for months by of the blockade, unable to move their contracted cargoes. Most were laden with corn and booked by developed countries to be used for animal feed or biofuels.
Peskov also said further steps needed to be taken to help Russia export its own agricultural products.
The West has not imposed sanctions on Russian foodstuffs or fertilisers, but Moscow says logistical sanctions and restrictions on Russian ships entering Western ports or securing insurance restrict Russia’s access to world markets.
Moscow says easing these restrictions was a key part of the Black Sea deal.
“This issue has not been resolved. It will be the topic for a specific conversation,” Peskov said.
(Reporting by Reuters)