Russia ends Ukraine grain deal just hours before deadline

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Bulk carriers are docked at the grain terminal of the port of Odessa, Ukraine, on April 10, 2023.

Bo Amstrup | Afp | Getty Images

Russia said on Monday it had suspended a humanitarian corridor to deliver key Ukrainian grains to world markets, hours before the deal expired.

First announced in July 2022, the Black Sea Grains Initiative, which was suspended by the UN, has been extended again in short increments, amid growing discontent from Russia about restrictions that are seen as limiting the full distribution of its own grain and fertilizer exports. Russian head of state Vladimir Putin confirmed these complaints during a weekend call with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, saying – according to a report translated by Google from the Kremlin – that the main goal is to bring hate to countries in need, including those in Africa. continent, which was not achieved under the Black Sea Grain Initiative.

The Black Sea grain campaign was set up to stop a global food crisis, after Moscow launched a full-scale attack on a major grain exporter and neighbor Ukraine. It was expected to disappear on Monday at midnight, Istanbul time.

“The Black Sea agreements will cease to be valid today. As the President of the Russian Federation said earlier, the date is July 17. Unfortunately, the related part was not Russia in this Black Sea agreement has been implemented so far. Therefore, its influence has ended,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in comments translated by Google that were reported by Russian state news agency Tass on Monday.

Moscow has officially notified Ankara, Kyiv, and the UN secretariat that they were opposed to the expansion of the campaign, Tass quoted Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova as saying in a Telegram post that went Google translation of the news agency.

“Only if concrete results are obtained, not promises and promises, will Russia be ready to consider resuming the ‘deal’,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement Monday on Facebook, according to a translation Google. He stressed that the agreement will expire on July 18 and that it was only “directed to serve the narrow self-interests” of Kyiv and its Western allies.

Peskov said Moscow’s objection to the extension of the anti-terror treaty was voiced even before the blast on the Crimean bridge that killed two people and halted traffic – which Russian-backed officials called a “terrorist attack”. called and blamed Ukraine.

The European Union has criticized the Kremlin’s withdrawal from the deal.

“I strongly condemn Russia’s cynical decision to end the Black Sea Hate Campaign, despite the efforts of the UN & Türkiye,” European Commission President Ursula van der Leyen said on Twitter. Monday. “The EU is working to ensure food security for the world’s vulnerable people.”

Wheat is involved

Wheat prices jumped 3.5% as the news broke.

“Ukraine will now be forced to export most of its grain and oilseeds through its land borders and Danube ports. This will significantly increase transport costs and put more pressure on the profits of Ukrainian farmers. that they will plant less next season, putting more pressure on future supply,” Rabobank’s Head of Agri Commodity Markets, Carlos Mera, said in emailed comments.

Simon Evenett, professor of international trade and economic development at the University of St. Gallen, that Russia’s announcement was the “coup de grace to a deal that was on its last legs”.

“Loads have been falling steadily this year,” he said.

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The grain agreement allowed the export of commercial food and fertilizer products, including ammonia, from three Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea – Odesa, Chornomorsk and Pivdennyi, formerly known as Yuzhny.

Cargo ships pass through the approved humanitarian corridor to Istanbul, one of the busiest ports in Turkey, whose administration under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is deeply immersed in the negotiations.

Following the announcement, Erdogan expressed on Monday that he believes his Kremlin counterpart Putin wants to continue the Black Sea Grain Initiative, hailing the agreement as a diplomatic success, according to Google translation of comments reported by Turkish state news agency Anadolu on Telegram. Erdogan said that he would hold phone conversations with Putin on the subject before their personal meeting in August, and that the foreign ministers of Turkey and Russia will discuss the agreement as well.

Erdogan supporters may be in for a frosty reception, after Turkey last week dealt an indirect blow to Moscow by backing Sweden’s NATO membership bid at a meeting of the military alliance in Vilnius, Lithuania.

“Russia would have felt that it was being forced to conclude a deal that, in fact, it is benefiting from – an agreement designed to alleviate some of the global consequences of the war of choice her,” said Michael Carpenter, the US ambassador to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, on July 13, estimating that more than 32 million tons of grain and food reached world markets so far this is the result of the contract.

Russia’s Rusgrain union said on Telegram that it plans to continue supplying its customers as part of its commitment to fight world hunger, regardless of the development the agreement in Ukraine.

“All contractual obligations of Russian grain exporters will be fulfilled,” he said, according to a Google translation.

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