Creating new perspectives since 2009

Russia suspends Black Sea grain deal

July 17, 2023 at 5:23 pm

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov is seen as a moderator of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s annual press conference in Moscow, Russia on December 17, 2020 [Sefa Karacan – Anadolu Agency]

Russia, on Monday, suspended the Black Sea grain deal, the Kremlin said, Anadolu Agency reports.

“The Black Sea agreements ceased to be valid today. As the President of the Russian Federation (Vladimir Putin) said earlier, the deadline is 17 July. Unfortunately, the part relating to Russia in this Black Sea agreement has not been implemented, so far. Therefore, its effect is terminated,” Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said in a news conference.

Peskov further said that Russia will return to implementing the grain deal as soon as the Russian part of the deal is fulfilled.

A year ago, Turkiye, the UN, Russia and Ukraine signed an agreement in Istanbul to resume grain exports from three Ukrainian Black Sea ports which had been paused after the Russia-Ukraine war began that February.

A Joint Coordination Centre was set up in Istanbul with officials from the three countries and the UN to oversee the shipments.

The deal has been renewed several times since then, and it was extended for another two months on 18 May.

READ: Nearly 33m tons of grain transported by over 1,000 ships through Black Sea grain corridor

Later, the Russian Foreign Ministry released an audio statement from its spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, who said the results of work on the implementation of the grain deal looked “disappointing” and that Memorandum between Moscow and the UN has not “come into effect”.

Zakharova said that none of the five systemic tasks envisaged by the Memorandum has been fulfilled, most notably the connection of the Russian Agricultural Bank to the SWIFT international payment system.

“Under these conditions of outright sabotage in the implementation of the Istanbul agreements, the continuation of the ‘Black Sea Initiative,’ that did not justify its humanitarian purpose, becomes meaningless,” Zakharova further said.

She said Russia objects to the further extension of the deal and has notified the UN Secretariat, Turkiye and Ukraine about its decision.

Zakharova said that the suspension of the deal also means “the withdrawal of guarantees for the safety of navigation, the curtailment of the maritime humanitarian corridor, the restoration of the regime of a temporarily dangerous area in the north-western Black Sea and the disbandment of the JCC (Joint Coordination Centre) in Istanbul.”

“If Western capitals really value the ‘Black Sea Initiative’, then let them seriously think about fulfilling their obligations and actually withdrawing Russian fertilisers and food from the sanctions. Only upon receipt of concrete results, and not promises and assurances, will Russia be ready to consider restoring the ‘deal’,” she added.

READ: Russia says ‘no grounds’ for extension of Black Sea grain deal