Deputy defense ministers of Ukraine, Russia and Türkiye are expected to meet in Istanbul on May 5 for talks on extending the Black Sea Grain Initiative, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on May 3.
Recalling his recent meetings with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Ukraine’s Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov, Akar said both sides were warm on extending the deal.
“We also discussed the grain initiative in our meetings. In this context, as a result of the acceptance of our proposal by both parties, it is planned that the deputy defense ministers of Türkiye, Ukraine and Russia will meet in Istanbul on Friday, May 5,” he said in a statement.
“We hope that the grain deal will continue undisturbed. Because this agreement is very important for regional peace and stability as well as for countries in need. In this context, we can say that the parties are looking warmly at the extension of the agreement,” the minister added.
The initiative was launched to avoid a growing food crisis after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Both Russia and Ukraine are the most important grain producers, but their export had significantly reduced due to the war. To overcome the problem, Türkiye and the U.N. initiated the grain deal with Russia and Ukraine for the resumption of their export.
So far, only Ukrainian products can be exported. The secondary sanctions on the shipment, payment and insurance have prevented the resumption of Russian exports, which created resentment in Moscow. Russia says it extended the deal for only 60 days to give time to resolving the problems before its exports.
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said the U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres proposed a Turkish bank to be an intermediary to overcome the SWIFT problem of Russian exports as part of the deal.
“There is no full guarantee, but there is serious work to be done to extend [grain deal]. It is on the agenda to include the Russian Agricultural Bank in the SWIFT system again. Even if this bank is included in SWIFT, we see that Western companies are not very eager to work with these banks. The Secretary General proposed that a Turkish bank be an intermediary,” Çavuşoğlu said in a televised interview on May 3.