- Turkey says the grain deal will resume Wednesday afternoon
- Russian says it received guarantees from Ukraine
Ankara/Mykolayiv, Ukraine, Nov. 2 (Reuters) – Russia said on Wednesday it would re-participate in a move that threatens to exacerbate hunger after ending its participation in a deal to free up key grain exports from war-torn Ukraine over the weekend. All over the world.
The Russian Defense Ministry said it had received a written assurance from Kiev that the Black Sea grain route would not be used for military operations against Russia.
“The Russian Federation considers the guarantees received at this time to be sufficient and is re-implementing the agreement,” the ministry statement said.
Russia on Saturday pulled out of the deal, saying it could not guarantee the safety of civilian ships crossing the Black Sea because of attacks on its fleet there. Ukraine called it a false pretext.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu had told his Turkish counterpart that the July 22 grain deal brokered by Turkey and the United Nations would remain in effect until Wednesday afternoon.
“Grain transportation will continue as agreed until 12 noon today,” Erdogan said.
Prices of wheat, soybeans, corn and rapeseed fell sharply on world markets following the announcement, easing concerns about food affordability.
Ships continued to carry Ukrainian grain on the route despite the suspension, but industry sources told Reuters this was unlikely to continue for long as insurers did not offer new contracts due to Russia’s move.
“It’s a very unexpected turn,” Andrey Sizov, head of Russia-focused agricultural consultancy Sovecon, said of Russia’s decision.
“Still, the agreement is shaky because it is now speculative whether there will be an extension or not. Two weeks before the extension, the discussion on this topic will obviously continue,” Sisov added.
The deal expires on November 19, and Russian President Vladimir Putin has told Reuters he is likely to use a potential extension to dominate next month’s G20 summit in Indonesia.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky earlier said the world must respond firmly to any Russian attempt to disrupt Ukraine’s export corridor across the Black Sea, which has been blocked since Moscow invaded Ukraine on February 24.
Russia’s blockade has exacerbated food shortages and cost-of-living crises in many countries, as Ukraine is one of the world’s largest suppliers of grains and oilseeds.
In a video address Tuesday night, Zelensky said ships were still leaving Ukrainian ports with cargo thanks to the work of Turkey and the United Nations.
“But the grain corridor needs reliable and long-term protection,” Zelensky said.
“Russia should clearly know that any actions that disrupt our food exports will receive a severe response from the world,” Zelensky said. “Tens of thousands of people’s lives are clearly here.”
The Grains Agreement aims to avoid famine in poor countries and ease price increases by injecting more wheat, sunflower oil and fertilizers into world markets. Exports from Ukraine each month target pre-war levels of 5 million metric tons.
Additional reporting by Pavel Polityuk in Kyiv, Eski Ergoyun in Ankara and other Reuters bureaus; By Philippa Fletcher; Editing by Angus MacSwan
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