Putin argues that elements of the deal allowing the export of Russian food and fertilisers have not been honoured

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa held a phone call with his Russian counterpart, President Vladimir Putin to discuss the upcoming BRICS summit and the Black Sea grain deal, ahead of its expiry date.

The phone call was made over the weekend, where the presidents discussed the preparations for the upcoming BRICS summit scheduled for Aug 22 to 24 in Johannesburg and supplying of grains to the countries in need, including the African continent.

The Black Sea Grain Deal is an initiative where grain and other food-related stuff get transported from Ukrainian ports to other countries. This agreement among Ukraine, Russia, Turkey, and the United Nations was made in July last year.

The agreement expires on July 17 this year and if Russia doesn't agree to extend the deal, then Ukraine won't be able to export grains via the Black Sea, which is bounded by Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Russia, and Georgia.

"When discussing the Istanbul package agreements, Vladimir Putin stressed that the obligations envisaged in the relevant Russia-UN memorandum to remove obstacles to the export of Russian food and fertilizers remained unfulfilled," as per Russia's official website.

It added, "Moreover, the deal's main goal – to supply grain to countries in need, including those on the African continent – has not been implemented. The leaders reaffirmed their mutual intention to strengthen cooperation in various fields."

Besides talking about the deal, the two leaders also "agreed to hold a separate meeting at the summit to have a detailed discussion on the bilateral and international agenda."

Considering the upcoming BRICS summit, President Ramaphosa is in a difficult position as the International Criminal Court (ICC) has already issued an arrest warrant against Putin on March 18 and expects South Africa to arrest him if he steps into the country.

South Africa has taken a neutral stance on Russia and Ukraine conflict. In fact, the President of South Africa along with several African heads traveled to Russia and Ukraine last month to seek peace and end the conflict between the two countries.

During the phone call, Ramaphosa thanked his counterpart for having a constructive discussion about the possible ways to resolve the situation around Ukraine during the visit of leaders and representatives of a number of African states to St Petersburg last month.

"Consideration of the African Peace Initiative will continue in conjunction with the Russia-Africa summit at the end of July," Kremlin noted.

Ahead of speaking with the Russian President Putin, Ramaphosa held a phone call with the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy last week to discuss the Black Sea Grain deal.