Western countries oppose Russia’s decision to withdraw from the Black Sea grain deal

The US and EU have criticized Russia’s decision to withdraw from a wartime deal that has blocked the shipment of millions of tonnes of grain through southern Ukraine, with traders and food security experts arguing that the move by Moscow will cause prices to skyrocket and increase hunger levels among poorer countries.

On Saturday, Washington called Moscow’s suspension of participation in the United Nations-backed deal with Kyiv an “outrageous” act that risks causing famine. Moscow linked its decision to an attack earlier that day on ships in the Crimean port of Sevastopol, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014. Ukraine called it a “false pretext”.

“The United States regrets Russia’s cessation of participation in the activities of the United Nations-brokered Black Sea county initiative. We urge all parties to keep this essential, life-saving initiative afloat,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

He said the agreement allowed the export of 9 million tons of food, which brought down global prices and subsequently skyrocketed Russia Invades Ukraine in February.

Josep Borrell, EU foreign affairs chief, called on Russia to reverse its decision to withdraw from the deal, saying the country “poses a risk to the main export route of grains and fertilizers needed to solve the wage crisis global reality caused by the war against Ukraine”.

Arif Husain, chief economist at the UN World Food Program, warned the decision would affect many countries. “This in good times would be bad but in the current state of the world, it is something that needs to be addressed as soon as possible. he said.

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that “by suspending participation in the grain agreement on the pretext of an explosion 220 km from the grain corridor, Russia has intercepted 2 million tons of grain on 176 ships in operation. at sea – enough to feed more than 7 million people.”

The Kremlin’s announcement came as a surprise to analysts and grain traders, who doubted the deal would be extended beyond the mid-November deadline, but did not expect an abrupt end to the deal. suddenly.

“We will see a significant increase in priceWhen the market opened, Andrey Sizov, chief executive officer of Black Sea grain consultancy SovEcon, added that Russia’s move was a “worst case scenario”.

Moscow on Sunday defended its actions, with Russia’s ambassador to the US arguing that the move was “really outrageous” because Washington had failed to criticize the attack on Sevastopol.

The attack, which appeared to target Russian warships, comes eight months after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

The Black Sea deal, struck this summer in Istanbul, has seen Moscow ensure the safe passage of grain cargo ships arriving from ports in southern Ukraine, which had previously been blocked radiated by war.

Specialized agent Fastmarkets Agricensus on Sunday said “panic” at these ports as international ships have docked and loaded, fearing they could be stranded because Moscow has suspended safe passage. .

The president of Ukraine called for a “strong international response” from the United Nations and the G20.

“Russia is doing everything to ensure that millions of Africans, millions of residents in the Middle East and South Asia find themselves in conditions of artificial hunger or at least a severe price crisis,” Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a nightly video address.

Russia denies the attack targeted Ukraine, a global exporter of grain and other food products, that drove prices up or exacerbated food shortages. Moscow on Saturday said it was ready to deliver 500,000 tons of grain directly to poor countries in the near future, the Tass news agency quoted a source from the agriculture ministry as saying.

This is seen by some as Moscow’s attempt to maintain strained relations with countries in the global south, whose food supplies have been profoundly affected by the fallout from the decision. Russia’s intention to invade Ukraine.

In recent weeks, Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed displeasure with the deal, saying it does not benefit “the poorest countries”.

However, the United Nations did not bill the deal as intended to send grain directly to poorer countries, but rather as an agreement to make grain more accessible to all by lowering market prices. school.

Putin’s growing opposition has also coincided with a series of military defeats to his forces, and the suspension of the deal comes as a counterattack in the ongoing southern Kherson region.

“Why is Moscow interrupting the grain deal now? The answer is: Putin needs leverage as things go south for him on the battlefields in Ukraine, so the threat of a global food crisis needs to be returned to the toolbox of coercion and Russian blackmail,” wrote Alexander Gabuev, senior fellow at Carnegie. Funding for International Peace.

However, he also warned that this strategy could backfire: “The cancellation of the grain deal will create a rift between Russia and powerful rivals such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia.”


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