Russia has terminated the Black Sea grain deal as its terms were not met before the expiry today (17 July) of the latest agreement.
Initially struck last July for 120 days and extended three times since – most recently for 60 days in May – the Black Sea Grain Initiative allowed for the safe passage of grains such as wheat out of three Ukrainian ports. Russia had continually threatened to withdraw from the deal unless obstacles to its own food and fertiliser shipments were removed.
“The Black Sea agreements are no longer in effect,” Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov was reported as saying today by the state-owned Tass news agency. “Unfortunately, the part of the Black Sea agreement that concerns Russia has not yet been fulfilled. As a result, it has been terminated.”
Peskov said Russia would resume its participation in the United Nations and Turkey-brokered deal ‘as soon as the relevant agreements are fulfilled’, the UK’s Financial Times newspaper reported, adding that international sanctions have stalled a separate agreement around shipments for Russia’s own agricultural exports.
The last grain-carrying ship left Ukraine yesterday from the port of Odesa headed for Turkey, the Al Jazeera news service said, citing the Marine Traffic website.
The West has responded with a statement from Germany’s minister for food and agriculture, Cem Özdemir.
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“Ukraine’s agricultural exports not only immediately feed the hungry around the world, they also calm the world markets and thus ensure affordable food – and bring Ukraine vital income,” Özdemir said in a statement.
“Russia is making good on its threat of not renewing the Black Sea Grains Agreement. Putin is taking the world’s poorest of the poor hostage for his horrific warmongering. The use of hunger as a weapon must end. Russia needs to get back to the negotiating table and continue the deal unreservedly.”
Özdemir added: “We had to reckon with Putin terminating the agreement. That is why the alternative export routes and their development are now all the more important to bring Ukrainian grain to European seaports via rail and road so that it arrives where it is so urgently needed.”
Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, tweeted: “I strongly condemn Russia’s cynical move to terminate the Black Sea Grain Initiative, despite UN & Türkiye’s efforts. [The] EU is working to ensure food security for the world’s vulnerable.”
According to news agency Reuters, Peskov said the decision not to extend the agreement was not related to an overnight attack on the bridge linking Russia with Crimea, deemed to be a ‘terrorist attack’.
Meanwhile, yesterday afternoon Russia took control of the Russian subsidiaries of Danone and Danish brewer Carlsberg. The Kremlin said it had placed the foreign-owned stakes of both Danone Russia and Baltika Breweries under the “temporary management” of government property agency Rosimushchestvo.