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Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he would only rejoin the Black Sea Grain Initiative (BSGI) if restrictions on his country’s exports were lifted, AP News reported.

Putin made his comments following talks with Turkey’s leaders on 4 September, the report on the following day said.

Russia left the BSGI – brokered by Turkey and the United Nations (UN) – in July. The deal had allowed for the safe passage of 33M tonnes of grain through the Black Sea.

Prior to the deal, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 had stopped the movement of grain in the region.

When refusing to extend the deal in July, Russia said a parallel agreement promising to remove obstacles to Russian exports of food and fertiliser had not been honoured and claimed restrictions on shipping and insurance had hampered its agricultural trade, World Grain wrote.

Putin repeated those complaints during the talks with Turkey, while also telling reporters that if those commitments were honoured, Russia could return to the deal “within days”, AP News wrote.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said he was hopeful a breakthrough could soon be reached, adding that Turkey and the UN had put together a new package of proposals to unblock the issue.

“We believe that we will reach a solution that will meet the expectations in a short time,” Erdogan was quoted as saying at the news conference held with Putin in the Russian resort of Sochi.

Ukraine and its Western allies dismissed the Kremlin’s demands as a tactic to advance its own interests, AP News wrote.

Urging Moscow to return to the deal, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba was quoted as saying “there were no legal and political grounds for Russia to withdraw from the agreement”.

Prior to the meeting between Putin and Turkey’s leaders, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said he had sent a letter to Russian Foreign Minister Sergie Lavrov with “concrete proposals” for reviving the BSGI and allowing the safe export of Ukrainian grain, World Grain wrote on 1 September.

However, Lavrov said Guterres’ offer did not meet Moscow’s demands, AP News wrote.

Since leaving the BSGI, Russia has repeatedly attacked grain infrastructure at ports on the Black Sea and along the Danube River.

Meanwhile, Ukraine had been looking for alternative routes for shipments, the report said.

Putin also said on 4 September that Russia was close to finalising an agreement to provide free grain to six African countries, World Grain wrote.

Last month, the Russian President had promised shipments to Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Mali, Somalia, Eritrea and Central African Republic.

The country would ship 1M tonnes of cheap grain to Turkey for processing and delivery to poor countries, the 5 September report said.