Russia said on Monday it was ending a deal that allowed Ukraine to export its grain by sea despite Moscow’s naval blockade, reversing a deal that helped keep global food prices stable and mitigated one element of the war’s global fallout.
Ukraine is a major producer of grains and other foodstuffs, and the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, said he was “deeply disappointed” by the decision. The millions of people who face, or struggle with, hunger, as well as consumers around the world facing a cost-of-living crisis, he said, “will pay the price.”
“Today’s decision by the Russian Federation will deal a blow to the needy everywhere,” he told reporters.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry S. Peskov, told reporters earlier on Monday that the agreement “has stopped.”
“As soon as the Russian part is implemented, the Russian side will immediately return to implementing the agreement,” he said. He added that the decision was not linked to the attack that took place hours ago on the Kerch Strait bridge, which connects Russia to occupied Crimea. Russian officials blamed Ukraine for the attack, but Kiev did not take responsibility.
Russia has repeatedly complained about the agreement, which it considers unilateral in favor of Ukraine. The Russian Foreign Ministry issued on Monday statement He reiterated his objections, including what he described as persistent “Ukrainian provocations and attacks against Russian civilian and military facilities” in the Black Sea region, and said the United Nations and Ukraine’s Western allies had not responded to Russian demands.
“Only upon receiving tangible results, not promises and assurances, will Russia be ready to consider restoring the agreement,” the statement said.
agreement, known as Black Sea Grain Initiative Mediation by the United Nations and Turkey, it was due to expire on Monday after the latest in a series of short-term extensions.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he would speak to Russian President Vladimir Putin about the agreement and expressed hope it could be revived.
“Despite today’s statement, I believe that the President of the Russian Federation, my friend Putin, wants this humanitarian bridge to continue,” Erdogan told reporters in Istanbul.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Moscow had breached its agreement with the United Nations and with Mr Erdogan, not with his country itself, given that Ukraine struck a separate deal with the two middlemen over grain. Ukraine demands a complete withdrawal of Russian forces from its territory and an end to aggression before any talks can take place.
“Even without the Russian Federation, everything must be done so that we can use this Black Sea corridor,” Mr. Zelensky said in remarks sent by his press office, adding that Ukraine is ready to transship if the United Nations and Turkey agree.
The deal succeeded in relieving shortages caused by the blockade in the early months of the war, which sent up global wheat prices. Ukraine was allowed to resume the export of millions of tons of grain, which had been weak for months, and was renewed several times, Most recently in May. Wheat prices fluctuated on Monday, exposing vulnerable countries to the prospect of a new round of wheat prices Food insecurity.
But Moscow complained that Western sanctions continued to restrict the sale of its agricultural products He sought guarantees It facilitates its exports of grain and fertilizers. In an effort to extend the deal, Mr. Guterres sent Mr. Putin proposals last week that he said he would “remove obstacles affecting financial transactions” through Russia’s Agricultural Bank.
Ukraine has exported 32.8 million tons of grain and other foodstuffs since the initiative began, according to UN data. Under the agreement, the ships are allowed passage by Russian naval vessels that have effectively closed off Ukraine’s ports since the start of Russia’s all-out invasion in February 2022. The ships are being checked off the coast of Istanbul, in part to ensure they are not. Carrying a weapon.
Last year, Russia suspended its participation in the inspections that were part of the agreement, then rejoined within days.
Shafak TimurAnd Daniel Victor And Farnaz Fassihi Contribute to the preparation of reports.
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