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Russia rejoins grain deal after Ukraine promises ports won’t be used for military operations

GRAIN SHIP AT ODESA

Yulii Zozulia | NurPhoto via AFP

John Burger - published on 10/30/22 - updated on 11/02/22

UN urged continuation of arrangement, which was "having a positive impact on access to food for millions of people."

UPDATE: Russia announced on November 2 that it was rejoining the deal, after receiving written guarantees from Ukraine that the waters and ports used by the grain ships would not be used “for military operations against the Russian Federation.”


The United Nations has hailed the Black Sea Grain Initiative as a success: Secretary-General António Guterres has credited it with bringing down world food prices and averting a global hunger crisis.

The deal, which ended a five-moth blockade of Ukrainian ports, has seen more than 9.2 million tons of grain and other foodstuffs exported from Ukraine, according to the UN. Several ships have gone to areas where hunger has become acute.

But on Saturday, Russia suspended its participation in the deal. Russia accuses Ukraine of attacking ships in the Black Sea, including a minesweeper, that are helping to facilitate the shipment of grain.

Humanitarian Corridor

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said that Ukraine’s armed forces used “the cover of a humanitarian corridor” to launch massive air and sea strikes and as a result Moscow “cannot guarantee the safety of civilian dry cargo ships participating in the Black Sea Initiative and suspends its implementation from today for an indefinite period,” the Wall Street Journal reported.  

Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, called that a false pretext.

According to the July agreement, Ukrainian pilots guide ships through Ukrainian minefields around the ports, and are then given safe passage by the Russian Navy to Turkey. There, teams with representatives from all the parties inspect them to ensure they are not bringing arms back to Ukraine.

The spokesman for Secretary-General Guterres, Stéphane Dujarric, said Saturday that it is “vital that all parties refrain from any action that would imperil the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which is a critical humanitarian effort that is clearly having a positive impact on access to food for millions of people.”

The agreement “helped to bring the global price of wheat down to prewar levels, helping to ease a global hunger crisis that resulted in part from the conflict,” the Wall Street Journal said. “Ukraine provided about 10% of the world’s wheat before Russia invaded. If shipments of Ukrainian grain are halted, the suspension will likely drive up the global price of wheat, corn and other vital food products.”

Around one-quarter of the food shipped through the deal went to low-income countries, according to the U.N., the Journal said. Ukraine also has shipped wheat to crisis-stricken nations including Somalia, Afghanistan and Yemen under the agreement. 

Tags:
RussiaUkraine
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