In the Black Sea, Turkey is acting as a mediator. The Kremlin announced on Friday that Vladimir Putin would receive his Turkish counterpart in Sochi, in southwestern Russia, on Monday. Recep Tayyip Erdoganwhile two freighters still have braved Russian threats leaving a Ukrainian port on the Black Sea.
This will be a rare visit to Russia by a G20 leader since the start of the Russian invasion in February 2022, after that of the Chinese president Xi Jinping in Moscow last March. “The talks will take place on Monday in Sochi at midday,” said Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for the Russian presidency, without giving further details on the themes that the two leaders would discuss.
Tensions in the Black Sea
This announcement comes at a time when Ukraine says for its part that it has left two freighters sail in the Black Sea in a maritime corridor established by it, despite the risks of Russian reprisals after the end of the grain agreement. “The bulk carriers Anna-Theresa (flying the flag of Liberia) and Ocean Courtesy (Marshall Islands) have left the port of Pivdennyi and are using the corridor”, declared on X (ex-Twitter) the Ukrainian Minister of Infrastructure, Oleksandre Kubrakov.
Two vessels are sailing through a temporary corridor from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports to the Bosphorus.
The bulk carriers ANNA-THERESA (Liberia) and OCEAN COURTESY (Marshala Islands) have left the port of Pivdennyi and are moving along the established corridor. They are carrying… pic.twitter.com/oRtTlbQ3CU
— Oleksandr Kubrakov (@OlKubrakov) September 1, 2023
The cereal agreement, that Moscow abandoned in mid-July and which allowed since the summer of 2022 the export of Ukrainian grain via the Black Sea despite the Russian blockade, will precisely be on the menu for discussion, Ankara ured Monday.
Turkey, which has been playing the middleman from the beginning, is trying to revive it in the hope of eventually using it as a springboard for broader peace negotiations between Ukraine and Russia. On Thursday, during a visit to Moscow, Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan deemed its recovery “essential”, his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov repeating that his country wanted “guarantees” from Westerners.
VIDEO. Ukraine: a cargo ship stopped and searched by Russian soldiers after warning shots
Since Russia slammed the door on the grain deal in July, Ukraine has depended on a few overland routes and a shallow river port for deliveries, which considerably limits the volume of its grain exports. Not counting the numerous Russian strikes on its port and cereal infrastructures from the south, widely denounced by kyiv.
In addition to the two cargo ships sailing in the Black Sea on Friday, two ships have managed in recent days to reach Turkish waters from Ukrainian ports, without Russia reacting militarily until today.