Russia has withdrawn from the UN- and Turkey-brokered deal that allowed Ukraine to export grain across the Black Sea, the Kremlin has said.
Speaking on 17 July, President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that the Black Sea Grain Initiative had expired and Moscow would not agree to extend it and would no longer cooperate with its terms.
“The Black Sea arrangements have ceased to be in force today,” Peskov explained. “Unfortunately, the part concerning Russia in this Black Sea agreement has not been fulfilled. Therefore, it is being terminated.”
The deal, brokered in Istanbul in July 2022, created procedures for the safe export of Ukrainian grain to ease the 2022 food crisis. The deal helped stabilise global food prices and brought significant relief to countries in Africa, the Middle East and Africa that rely on imports of grain from Ukraine.
However, since it was agreed, Russia has repeatedly complained that Western restrictions, such as sanctions on the banking and insurance sector, have hampered its own exports. Russia’s exports, like Ukraine’s, are also vital to the global food chain.
“When the part of the Black Sea deal related to Russia is implemented, Russia will immediately return to the implementation of the deal,” Peskov said.
Although Peskov did not name Russia’s conditions to return to the deal, they likely include the connection of Rosselkhozbank (Russian Agricultural Bank) to the SWIFT international payments network and the ending of sanctions on agricultural machinery.
Both Russia and Ukraine are major suppliers of grains, as well as oil and fertiliser. Since Moscow launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the cost of grains in countries such as Egypt and Nigeria has skyrocketed. Other countries, such as Somalia, are also suffering from drought, meaning that grain imports have even greater importance.