UN, Turkey, Ukraine Press Ahead With Black Sea Grain Deal Despite Russian Pullout

By Reuters
October 31, 2022Business News
UN, Turkey, Ukraine Press Ahead With Black Sea Grain Deal Despite Russian Pullout
A stork flies over a wheat field near the village of Tomylivka in Kyiv region, Ukraine, on Aug. 1, 2022. (Viacheslav Ratynskyi/Reuters)

KYIV/NEW YORK—The United Nations, Turkey, and Ukraine are pressing ahead to implement a Black Sea grain deal with a transit plan in place for 16 ships on Monday, despite Russia suspending its participation in the pact that has allowed the export of Ukrainian agricultural products to world markets.

Russia, which invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, in the Black Sea deal on Saturday for an “indefinite term” because it could said it could not “guarantee safety of civilian ships” traveling under the pact after an attack on its Black Sea fleet.

The United Nations and Turkey, two main brokers of the July deal, scrambled on Sunday to save it. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was deeply concerned about Russia’s move and delayed a foreign trip to try and revive the agreement that was intended to ease a global food crisis, his spokesperson said.

Following Russia’s move, wheat prices on international commodities markets were expected to leap on Monday as both Russia and Ukraine are among the world’s largest wheat exporters, analysts said.

More than 9.5 million tonnes of corn, wheat, sunflower products, barley, rapeseed, and soy have been exported since July. Under the deal, a Joint Coordination Centre (JCC)—made up of U.N., Turkish, Russian, and Ukrainian officials—agrees on the movement of ships and inspects the vessels.

No ships moved through the established maritime humanitarian corridor on Sunday. But the United Nations said in a statement that it had agreed with Ukraine and Turkey on a movement plan for 16 vessels on Monday—12 outbound and 4 inbound.

It said the Russian officials at the JCC had been told about the plan, along with the intention to inspect 40 outbound vessels on Monday, and noted that “all participants coordinate with their respective military and other relevant authorities to ensure the safe passage of commercial vessels” under the deal.

Turkish Defense 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 defense ministry said.

NATO and the European Union have urged Russia to reconsider its decision. U.S. President Joe Biden on Saturday called Russia’s move “purely outrageous” and said it would increase starvation. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken accused Moscow of weaponizing food.

On Sunday, Russia’s ambassador to Washington, snapped back, saying the U.S. response was “outrageous” and made false assertions about Moscow’s move.

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