Russia pulled out of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, a UN-brokered deal that allowed Ukraine, one of the world’s breadbaskets, to export grain.
“The Russian side suspends participation in the implementation of agreements on the export of agricultural products from Ukrainian ports,” Russia’s Defence Ministry said on Saturday (Oct. 29), accusing the Kiev regime, of launching a massive drone attack on its fleet in the Bay of Sevastopol in Crimea with the help of British “experts.”
Britain’s defence ministry said on Twitter the Russian claims were false and designed to distract from Russian military failures in Ukraine.
Ukraine’s Infrastructure Ministry reported on Sunday (Oct. 30) that 218 ships involved in grain exports are currently blocked — 22 loaded and stuck at ports, 95 loaded and departed from ports, and 101 awaiting inspections.
Moscow’s announcement surprised grain traders and analysts who, while doubtful that the deal would have endured beyond its November 19 deadline, had not expected a sudden termination, the Financial Times reported.
Moscow asked the U.N. Security Council to meet on Monday to discuss the Sevastopol attack, Deputy U.N. Ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy wrote on Twitter.
Earlier, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged Russia and Ukraine to renew the July 22 deal that has seen more than nine million tons of corn, wheat, sunflower products, barley, rapeseed and soy exported from Ukraine and brought down global food prices.
In comments to journalists reported by Tass news agency, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko said next steps on the Ukrainian grain export initiative abandoned by Moscow can only be determined after a full investigation into Saturday’s attack on Russia’s Black Sea fleet.
Turkey, which has maintained diplomatic relations with both Kyiv and Moscow, has emerged as a key mediator between the warring parties. Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar was in contact with his Russian and Ukrainian counterparts to try and salvage the agreement and had asked the parties to avoid any provocation, the Turkish defence ministry said. NATO and the European Union have urged Russia to reconsider its decision. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Sunday expressed “deep concern” as Ukraine’s maritime grain exports were halted.
Russia has said it will rejoin the UN-brokered Black Sea Initiative after having received security guarantees from Kiev not to use the humanitarian corridor against Russia.
“The Russian Federation believes that the guarantees received at the moment appear to be sufficient and resume the implementation of the agreement,” the Russian Defense Ministry said on Wednesday (Nov. 2)
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov underlined on Thursday (Nov. 3) that Moscow’s decision to return to the grain agreement does not imply that its deadline will be extended.
“We still have to officially discuss the extension, the deadline has not yet expired, it’s still working,” the Kremlin spokesman said, adding that the decision on prolonging the agreement will be assessed by November 19, before being made official. “It will be necessary to evaluate the effectiveness deal,” Peskov stressed.
With reporting by Reuters, TASS, Al Jazeera