Russia Withdraws from Ukraine Grain Deal, Prompting International Concerns and Proposals for Armed Patrols

news 17-Jul-2023 World News

Russia Withdraws from Ukraine Grain Deal, Putting Global Food Supplies at Risk


The crucial agreement that allowed Ukraine to safely export grain via the Black Sea has officially expired after Russia decided to pull out, leaving world leaders concerned about the impact on the world's poorest populations.

On Monday, Moscow notified the United Nations, Turkey, and Ukraine that it would not renew the deal, accusing the West of failing to uphold its end of the agreement.


The decision has been strongly criticized by global leaders who warn that it will have a negative effect on food supplies for vulnerable populations.


Russia stated that it would consider returning to the agreement if its conditions were met.

The agreement formally expired at midnight Istanbul time (2100 GMT) on Tuesday. It had allowed cargo ships to pass through the Black Sea from the ports of Odesa, Chornomorsk, and Yuzhny/Pivdennyi.

Russian President Vladimir Putin had long complained that certain aspects of the agreement, particularly the export of Russian food and fertilizers, were not being honored. He specifically mentioned that grain was not being supplied to poorer countries, which was a condition of the agreement.


Russia also repeatedly expressed frustration over Western sanctions that were impeding its own agricultural exports. Putin had threatened to withdraw from the agreement on multiple occasions.

On Monday, Russia's foreign ministry reiterated these grievances, accusing the West of "open sabotage" and prioritizing commercial interests over humanitarian goals.

However, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated that he believed Putin "wants to continue the agreement" and that they would discuss its renewal during their upcoming meeting.

The grain deal is of great importance as Ukraine is one of the world's largest exporters of sunflower, maize, wheat, and barley.


Following Russia's invasion in February 2022, Ukrainian ports were blockaded, trapping 20 million tonnes of grain. This blockade led to a sharp increase in global food prices.

Moreover, the blockade posed a threat to food supplies in several Middle Eastern and African countries that heavily rely on Ukrainian grain.

With the assistance of the United Nations and Turkey, an agreement was finally brokered in July of last year.


Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated that his country intends to continue exporting grain, emphasizing that the agreement consists of two reciprocal deals: one signed by Ukraine and the other by Russia.

"We are not afraid," Zelensky said in response to Russia's withdrawal from the agreement. "We have been approached by companies that own vessels, and they are willing to continue shipping grain if Ukraine allows them entry and Turkey allows them passage."

International Armed Patrols Proposed as Russia Withdraws from Ukraine Grain Deal

Mykhaylo Podolyak, an advisor to President Zelensky, has suggested the creation of an international armed patrol force to escort ships carrying grain from Ukraine and ensure their safety. However, he acknowledged that there may not be many countries willing to participate in such patrols.


Nikolay Gorbachev, the president of the Ukrainian Grain Association, mentioned that alternative means of exporting grain have been identified, including through Danube River ports. However, he admitted that these ports would be less efficient, resulting in reduced grain exports and increased transportation costs.

World leaders swiftly condemned Russia's decision. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen described it as a "cynical move," while US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield called it an "act of cruelty."

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the head of the World Trade Organization (WTO), emphasized the significance of Black Sea trade in food, feed, and fertilizer for global food price stability. She expressed hope that Russia would reconsider its withdrawal from the deal.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stated that the organization would seek solutions to address the inevitable increase in human suffering resulting from Russia's decision. He emphasized the importance of addressing hunger and distress in a world facing numerous challenges.

The Kremlin's announcement came shortly after an attack on a bridge in Crimea that claimed the lives of two civilians. While Ukraine has not officially claimed responsibility, a source from the country's security service informed BBC Russian that Ukraine was behind the attack.


Dmitry Peskov, the spokesperson for the Kremlin, stated that Russia's decision to let the deal expire was unrelated to the attack. He clarified that President Putin had already declared the country's position before the incident occurred.

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