Senior Russian official in talks on Black Sea grain deal that would exclude Ukraine


Mr Orban has pushed back against EU sanctions against Russia and is seen as a weak link in the West that the Kremlin may look to exploit. He is the only EU leader to visit Moscow during the war, travelling to the funeral of former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

Hungary still buys Russian gas, and its companies have said that they want to boost business in Russia. It has Turkic roots and has been looking to boost relations with Turkic countries and regions such as Tatarstan. 

Mr Orban is also hosting leaders from Turkic countries over the weekend as the country stages the World Athletics Championship.

Germany’s Bild newspaper has reported that Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish president, and Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the leader of Qatar, were also due in Budapest on Sunday and may sign the new grain deal with Mr Minnikhanov, who is effectively acting as Putin’s envoy.

Like other regional governors, Mr Minnikhanov owes his position to Putin’s patronage. At a meeting in January, he told the Russian president he had raised two battalions of soldiers to support the invasion of Ukraine and had reorientated the region’s economy to bolster the defence sector.

Tatarstan, in central Russia, is also the site of a large new factory that will produce drones licensed from Iran to attack Ukraine.

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