Russia Officially Pulls Out of Ukraine Grain Deal

Russia has accused the West of putting commercial interests ahead of humanitarian ones with regards to the grain deal

Russia has notified the UN, Turkey and Ukraine that it will not renew a crucial deal that allowed Ukraine to export grain through the Black Sea.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said the agreements had reached a “de facto” end on Monday.

The deal let cargo ships pass through the Black Sea from the ports of Odesa, Chornomorsk and Yuzhny/Pivdennyi.

But, Moscow said it would return to the agreement if its conditions were met.

Russian President Vladimir Putin had long complained that parts of the deal allowing the export of Russian food and fertilisers had not been honoured. In particular, he said grain had not been supplied to poorer countries, which was a condition of the agreement.

Russia also repeatedly complained that Western sanctions were restricting its own agricultural exports. Mr Putin repeatedly threatened to pull out of the agreement.

The country’s foreign ministry on Monday reiterated these grievances, accusing the West of “open sabotage” and of “selfishly” putting the commercial interests of the deal ahead of its humanitarian goals.

But Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters he believed that Mr Putin “wants to continue the agreement” and that they would discuss the renewal of the deal when they meet in person next month.

The grain deal is important as Ukraine is one of the world’s largest exporters of sunflower, maize, wheat and barley.

Following Russia’s invasion in February 2022, naval vessels blockaded Ukrainian ports and trapped 20 million tonnes of grain. The blockade meant global food prices skyrocketed.

It also threatened food supplies to a number of Middle Eastern and African countries which rely heavily on Ukrainian grain.

An agreement was finally brokered in July last year with the help of the United Nations and Turkey.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said his country intended to continue exporting grain, highlighting that the agreement was made up of two deals that mirrored each other – one signed by Ukraine and the other by Russia.

“We are not afraid,” he said of Russia’s decision to withdraw from their deal.

“We were approached by companies who own vessels and they’re willing to continue shipping grain if Ukraine agrees to let them in and Turkey – to pass them through.”

Nikolay Gorbachev, the president of the Ukrainian Grain Association, told the BBC that his members had identified alternative means of exporting grain – including through its Danube River ports.

But he conceded that the ports would be less efficient, reducing the amount of grain Ukraine can export and raising the cost of moving it.

Western leaders were quick to condemn the decision, with EU commission President Ursula von der Leyen accusing Russia of a “cynical move”, adding that Brussels was trying to “ensure food security for the world’s vulnerable”.

The US ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, described the move as an “act of cruelty”.

The Kremlin’s announcement came just hours after Ukraine claimed responsibility for an attack on a bridge in Crimea that killed two civilians.

Mr Peskov said Russia letting the deal expire was unrelated to the attack. “Before this attack, the position was declared by President Putin”, he told reporters in Moscow.


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