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Kremlin warns of risks in resuming grain deal without Russia

July 18, 2023 at 5:17 pm

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov in Moscow, Russia on 17 December 2020 [Sefa Karacan/Anadolu Agency]

The Kremlin warned on Tuesday about the risks that could arise if the Black Sea grain deal is resumed without Russia, Anadolu Agency reports.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative’s routes are very close to the war zone, which must be taken into consideration in the event of a new agreement, Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, noted at a press conference in Moscow.

“This is a question that needs a response from our military because we are talking about a zone that is directly close to the area of ​​combat activities where, without appropriate guarantees, certain risks arise. Therefore, if something is to be drafted without Russia, then these risks should be taken into account,” he stressed.

The Kremlin spokesman noted that he does not know which countries are ready to deal with such risks.

“Even if we take this grain transaction zone, it is no secret to anyone. It is an obvious fact that this zone is used by the Kyiv regime for military purposes. This is a very important aspect that should not be overlooked,” he emphasised.

READ: Turkiye, Russia foreign ministers discuss Black Sea grain deal over phone

A year ago, Turkiye, the UN, Russia and Ukraine signed an agreement in Istanbul to resume grain exports from three Ukrainian Black Sea ports. The deal had been renewed several times since then, and it was extended for another two months on 18 May.

Under the grain deal, a Joint Coordination Centre was set up in Istanbul last year, with officials from Russia, Turkiye, Ukraine and the UN to oversee the shipments. However, Russia on Monday suspended the deal.

In October, last year, Moscow suspended the grain deal for several days due to Ukraine’s attacks on the vessels of its Black Sea Fleet, which were carried out using the humanitarian corridor, according to the Russian Defence Ministry.

When asked if Russian President, Vladimir Putin, intends to contact his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, about resuming the deal, Peskov said nothing has been scheduled as of yet.

The spokesman also reaffirmed Russia’s readiness to compensate the shipments of Ukrainian grain to needy countries free of charge.

“Unfortunately, we are talking about rather small amounts, because the poorest countries in Africa received the least from the grain deal,” he said.

On 27-28 July, the city of St. Petersburg will host the 2nd Russia-Africa Summit, with the issue of food security on the agenda, the spokesman said.

He praised UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres’s efforts, saying Moscow “highly evaluates” his role in the grain export agreements.

“We highly appreciate Mr. Guterres’s efforts in trying to convince European countries to fulfil the commitments they have made,” he said.

The official also rejected the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken’s charge that Russia’s decision to suspend the deal was “unconscionable”.

“Russia fulfilled its obligations and extended this deal several times, despite the fact that the terms of this deal with Russia were not implemented. And, in this case, we have to call ‘unconscionable’ the position of the European states,” he said.

READ: Insurers reviewing Black Sea ship cover after Russia quits deal