The Russian and Turkish foreign ministers met in Moscow on Thursday to discuss ways to revive a deal that would allow grain shipments to pass through the Black Sea but the talks ended with no progress being reported.
Turkey’s Foreign Minister, Hakan Fidan, said during the talks that Turkey was still working with the United Nations to try to resurrect a previous agreement that let Ukraine export its grain, with changes that would take into account Russia’s demands.
Mr. Fidan said the U.N. is trying to prevent “previous setbacks” and set up a “more permanent grain deal.”
“This is a very complicated and laborious job,” he said, adding that reviving the grain deal was a top agenda between two ministers. “Turkey will keep exerting efforts on this.”
The meeting between the two ministers was to prepare a future meeting between leaders of Russia and Turkey, Mr. Fidan said. The summit is expected to happen next month, though no date has been set.
About six weeks ago, Russia abandoned the previous deal, known as the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which for a year had eased a global food crisis by enabling Ukrainian grain ships to get past Moscow’s warships in the Black Sea.
Since then, Russian forces have repeatedly struck the port of Odesa, as well as other facilities connected to Ukraine’s grain industry, and Moscow has warned civilian ships heading to Ukrainian ports that they could be considered to be carrying military cargo.
On Thursday, the Russian foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, proposed the possibility of circumventing Ukrainian ports altogether by delivering Russian grain directly to Turkey that would then be delivered to food-insecure nations. The proposal would not help Ukraine resume exports.
“We discussed the initiative of the President of Russia to organize deliveries to Turkey of Russian grain, up to 1 million tons at a preferential price in Turkey and sent on to more needy countries around the world,” Mr. Lavrov said. “The question is being discussed with our friends from Qatar, who are ready to participate in the financial aspect of this deal.”
Mr. Lavrov reiterated Russia’s demands for reinstating the deal, adding that measures to meet their demands “have been left unfulfilled, despite the promises of the General Secretary of the U.N.
Ukraine has demanded that grain shipments continue, with or without Russia. Immediately after Russia pulled out of the deal, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine said he discussed an agreement with the United Nations and Turkey to revive grain shipments independent of Moscow, adding that they were ready to restart shipments if the two parties agreed.
Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on Thursday that “supporting Russian grain exports in the Black Sea without resuming Ukrainian grain exports from Ukrainian ports would deal a severe blow to international obligations and international law.”
The ministry added that it expected Turkey would “use their authority to thwart Russia’s attempts to violate international obligations and blackmail the world with new food crises.”
The prices of some grains have increased since Russia pulled out of the Black Sea deal, and the United Nations has warned of food shortages if the accord is not restored. Both Ukraine and Russia are among the world’s most important grain exporters.
Mr. Lavrov also said that the two leaders also confirmed Russia’s commitment to increase exports of natural gas and begin the process of building a single gas distribution hub in Turkey.
Valeriya Safronova and Safak Timur contributed reporting.