The Kremlin said on Monday that a UN-brokered deal to safely route Ukrainian grain exports through the Black Sea had been suspended, saying Russia’s conditions had not been met.
“The Black Sea agreements are not valid today,” President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted as saying by state news agency TASS. to say
“As the President of the Russian Federation said earlier, the deadline is July 17. Unfortunately, the part of this Black Sea Agreement related to Russia has not yet been implemented. Therefore, its effect is suspended,” Peskov said.
“Once the Russian conditions are met, the Russian Federation will return to implementing the agreement,” he said.
In a letter sent to the Istanbul-based Joint Coordination Center set up to monitor the agreement’s implementation, Russia informed the other parties that it was withdrawing from the initiative, a UN official confirmed to POLITICO.
The Black Sea Grain Initiative, first brokered by the United Nations and Turkey a year ago in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, was renewed for two months on May 17. About 33 million metric tons of grains and oilseeds have been exported so far under the agreement, which has been extended three times, a lifeline for Ukraine’s farmers and food-insecure countries in the Global South.
Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra blasted Moscow’s move, saying it threatened food prices and market stability. “It is absolutely immoral for Russia to continue weaponizing food,” Hoekstra said Tweet.
‘enough is enough’
Moscow has repeatedly said it will not agree to a further extension, saying it does not see the benefits of the deal. The Kremlin says the “disguised” Western sanctions are hampering Russia’s own food and fertilizer exports, in violation of a second deal agreed last July under which the UN would ease these exports over a three-year period.
Last Tuesday, UN Secretary-General António Guterres sent a letter to Putin proposing a compromise plan to meet the Kremlin’s demand that Russia’s state agricultural bank be allowed back into the SWIFT payments system.
However, two days later, Putin reiterated that Russia had not met the conditions necessary to extend the deal. “We voluntarily extended this so-called agreement many times. Many times. But listen, in the end, enough is enough,” the Russian president said. said In a television interview Thursday night.
“Russia is exporting record amounts of grain,” he told POLITICO in an interview ahead of Monday’s announcement in Moscow.
“There is no evidence that Russia is blocking its exports,” he said, adding that the European Union, the United States, the United Kingdom and the United Nations worked very closely with specific agencies.
The last ship
The The last ship It left Ukraine’s Odesa port on Sunday morning to sail under the deal, Reuters reported. Ahead of the July 17 deadline, the number of shipments fell — from 4.2 million last October to 1.3 million metric tons in May — while no new vessels have been registered under the initiative since late June.
Kiev, which accuses Moscow of sabotaging the deal, is preparing alternative routes to export its grain and oilseed crops.
Meanwhile, aid agencies are projecting the impact of the deal’s decision on global food prices, which they say will hit the world’s most vulnerable in food-insecure countries hardest.
Wheat prices rose 3 percent on Monday, bringing the overall gain to 12 percent since the middle of last week, said Carlos Mera, head of agricultural commodity markets at Rabobank. Without the deal, Ukraine would have to export most of its grain and oilseeds via the Danube River, increasing transport and logistics costs and lowering prices for farmers, who may then plant less, he said.
“This situation means that poor countries in Africa and the Middle East will be more dependent on Russian wheat,” Mera said.
O’Brien said Russia’s withdrawal from the initiative would be “full responsibility for a catastrophic blow to global grain security”. “President Putin is well aware that if he chooses to block or end this arrangement, he will cause great trouble for the Global South.”