Russia has pulled out of a deal with Turkey, Ukraine, and the United Nations (UN) that allowed grain to pass freely through the Black Sea, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov announced on Monday, citing that Moscow’s conditions of agreement had not been met.
The move is likely to have far-reaching consequences for global food security, potentially affecting worldwide food availability and prices given the significant agricultural production capacities of both Ukraine and Russia. Both countries play a prominent role in wheat, barley, maize, rapeseed, rapeseed oil, sunflower seed, sunflower oil, and fertiliser markets.
On Monday Russia accused Ukraine of launching a drone attack killing two civilians on the road bridge that links the Crimean peninsula with Russia’s Krasnodar. However, the Kremlin claimed the decision to terminate the grain initiative was not related to the incident.
Moscow has officially notified Ukraine, Turkey, and the United Nations of its objection to an extension of the agreement, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova confirmed.
Russia has long raised objections to the extension of the grain deal, citing obstacles to exporting its own grain and fertiliser. Among the conditions put forward by Russia were the unimpeded supplies of ammonia to Europe through Ukraine and the reconnection of Rosselkhozbank, the Russian Agriculture Bank, to the SWIFT international payments system. The European Union severed ties between the bank and SWIFT in June 2022 as a response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February of last year.
The Russia- Ukraine war has led to soaring commodity prices and contributed to a global food crisis. The increased cost of grain adversely affected the Middle East and Africa, exacerbating economic difficulties and pushing millions of people into poverty and food insecurity.
The United Nations has underscored the importance of the Black Sea deal, highlighting that it reduced global food prices by over 20 percent.
The Black Sea grain deal, signed in July 2022 in Istanbul, aimed to establish a dedicated export corridor for Ukrainian grain from three ports. Additionally, the agreement sought to address obstacles hindering the export of Russian food and fertilisers.
The deal played a vital role in ensuring the safety of ships entering and leaving Ukrainian ports and facilitated the movement of Russian food and fertilisers, which are crucial in the global food market.
This is not the first time Russia has threatened to withdraw from the deal. Moscow temporarily suspended participation in the past, following a drone attack on its Crimean naval fleet in October.