Russia axes landmark Ukraine grain deal just hours before deadline

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

Bo Amstrup | Afp | Getty Images

Russia on Monday said it had suspended a humanitarian corridor to deliver key Ukrainian grains to global markets, hours before the agreement’s expiry.

First inked in July 2022, the U.N.-brokered Black Sea Grain Initiative has been repeatedly elongated in short increments, amid increasing discontent from Russia over perceived restrictions that limit the full dispatch of its own grain and fertilizer exports. The initiative was set up to abate a global food crisis, after Moscow launched a full-scale invasion of fellow key grain exporter and neighbor Ukraine.

It was set to lapse on Monday at midnight, Istanbul time.

“The Black Sea agreements ceased to be valid today. As the President of the Russian Federation said earlier, the deadline is July 17. Unfortunately, the part relating to Russia in this Black Sea agreement has not been implemented so far. Therefore, its effect is terminated,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said, in Google-translated comments reported by Russian state news agency Tass on Monday.

Wheat prices jumped 3.5% as the news broke.

Moscow has officially notified Ankara, Kyiv, and the U.N. secretariat that it opposed extending the initiative, Tass cited Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova as saying on a Google-translated Telegram post of the news organization.

Peskov said that Moscow’s objection to prolonging the grain deal was communicated even before an explosion on the Crimean bridge that reportedly killed two and halted traffic — which Russian-backed officials have called a “terrorist attack” and blamed on Ukraine.

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

Cargo ships proceed through the agreed humanitarian corridor to Istanbul, one of the busiest ports of Turkey, whose administration under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been deeply immersed in the negotiations.

“Russia would have you believe it is being forced to end a deal that, in fact, it benefits from – a deal designed to alleviate some of the global consequences of its war of choice,” Michael Carpenter, U.S. ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, said on July 13, estimating that over 32 million tons of grain and food reached global markets to date as a result of the deal.

This is a breaking news story, please check back later for more.

Source – Middle east monitor