The Kremlin announced Wednesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin is planning to visit Turkey soon, following the recent collapse of the UN-brokered Black Sea Grain Initiative, which Putin has refused to renew, saying it unfairly benefited wealthy European countries, and not hard hit Africa and Middle East populations.
The trip was agreed upon in a phone call between Putin and Erdogan, with the Turkish president vowing to "continue to make intensive efforts and pursue diplomacy" in order to maintain the grain deal, but there was no timetable given for the trip.
According to a readout, Erdoğan told Putin that "no steps should be taken that will escalate tensions in the Russia-Ukraine war," and called the grain deal "bridge for peace".
But Putin had told his Turkish counterpart that a failure to implement Russia's legitimate concerns, the "next extension had lost its meaning."
Recently in the context of last week's Africa-Russia Summit hosted in St. Petersburg, Putin told African heads of state that he's working on sending "free" grain to the continent via alternate routes.
But as Turkish media has noted, Russia is escalating its attacks on Ukrainian ports, including grain exports, which Moscow now sees as illicit:
The talks came after Moscow struck Ukraine's grain ports in the wee hours of Wednesday, including an inland port across the Danube River from Romania, sending global food prices soaring as Russia ramps up its use of force to reimpose a blockade of Ukrainian exports.
As a result of the attack, a grain elevator, grain silos and warehouses were damaged or destroyed, prosecutors said.
Erdogan had reported urged Putin to avoid escalating attacks on Ukrainian grain further.
"Turkey will keep up with its intense efforts" to reinstate the grain deal, Erdogan had told Putin, saying "Steps that would escalate the tension in the war between Russia and Ukraine should be avoided."