Monday’s meeting in Sochi comes amid international efforts to reform the Black Sea Grain Initiative.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is scheduled to meet Vladimir Putin on Monday, hoping to persuade the Russian leader to rejoin the Black Sea grain deal that Moscow broke up with in July.
The meeting, scheduled for Sochi on Russia’s southern coast, follows weeks of speculation about when and where the two leaders might meet. Erdogan said earlier that Putin would travel to Turkey in August.
Here are some key things to know and what’s at stake in the meeting:
Why did Russia withdraw from the grain deal?
The Kremlin refused to renew the grain agreement about six weeks ago. The agreement — brokered by the United Nations and Turkey in July 2022 — allowed some 33 million tons of grain and other goods to safely leave three Ukrainian ports despite the Russian invasion.
However, Russia withdrew after claiming that a parallel agreement that promised to remove obstacles to Russian exports of food and fertilizers had not been fulfilled.
It has also complained that restrictions on shipping and insurance have hampered its agricultural trade, even though it has shipped record quantities of wheat since last year.
Why is Türkiye an intermediary?
Since Putin withdrew from the initiative, Erdogan has repeatedly vowed to renew the arrangements that helped avert a food crisis in parts of Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan met Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in Moscow on Friday, and told a news conference in the Russian capital on Thursday that reviving the deal was important to the world.
Ukraine and Russia are major suppliers of wheat, barley, sunflower oil and other commodities on which developing countries depend.
Erdogan maintained close ties with Putin during the 18-month war in Ukraine. Turkey did not join Western sanctions against Russia in the wake of its invasion, and has emerged as a major trading partner and logistics hub for Russia’s foreign trade.
However, Turkey, a NATO member, has also supported Ukraine, sending weapons, meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and supporting Kiev’s bid to join the alliance.
What are Russia’s demands?
The Sochi summit follows talks between the Russian and Turkish foreign ministers on Thursday, during which Russia handed over a list of measures the West must take to resume Ukraine’s Black Sea exports.
US wheat prices rose on Friday, a day after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow saw no indication it would get the guarantees needed to revive the grain deal.
Erdogan showed sympathy for Putin’s position. In July, he said that Putin had “certain expectations from Western countries” on the deal, and that it was “important for these countries to take action in this regard”.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres recently sent Lavrov “concrete proposals” aimed at bringing Russian exports to global markets and allowing the resumption of the Black Sea Initiative. But Lavrov said Moscow was not satisfied with the letter.
Describing Turkey’s “intensive” efforts to revive the agreement, Turkish “Fidan” said it is “a process that tries to better understand Russia’s position and requests, and fulfill them.”