Date: 17 July 2023 Author: Grzegorz Kuczyński

Russia Quits Black Sea Grain Deal

Russia pulled out of an international agreement that allows Ukraine to export grain through the Black Sea. Thus, Moscow could seek to take revenge on the Turkish president for his decisions that were not favorable for Russia while making attempts to force Western states into concessions.


The last ship to travel under a UN-brokered deal that allows the safe Black Sea export of Ukrainian grain left the port of Odesa early on July 16. A day later, the Kremlin stalled the export of Ukrainian grain and fertilizers, saying its conditions for extending the deal brokered by the UN and Turkey had not been fulfilled. The grain deal actually involves a set of agreements. To convince Russia to agree to the Black Sea deal, a three-year memorandum of understanding was struck between the UN and Russia on July 22, 2022, in Istanbul, Turkey, under which UN officials agreed to help Ukraine get its food and fertilizer exports to foreign markets. A separate agreement was brokered by the UN between Russia and Turkey. Russia has halted a breakthrough wartime deal that allows the grain to flow from Ukraine under a memorandum it had signed with the UN. Unlike the Black Sea Initiative, it was signed for three years. In addition, the UN-Russia memorandum is “not an international treaty and does not establish any rights or obligations under the international law.” Russia’s main demands were the resumption of its ammonia exports through a pipeline to the Ukrainian port of Odesa and the reconnection of its state agricultural bank Rosselkhozbank to the SWIFT international payments system. Following the Kremlin’s decision to pull out of the deal, global prices of wheat climbed higher. Russia’s decision has been met with harsh criticism across the globe. “Hundreds of millions of people face hunger and consumers are confronting a global cost-of-living crisis. They will pay the price,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said of Russia’s decision. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said that he believed Russian President Vladimir Putin wants the continuation of a deal allowing the export of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea, after Moscow suspended its participation. President Volodymyr Zelensky was quoted saying that the Black Sea grain corridor can continue to operate even without Russia’s participation. Mykhaylo Podolyak, an advisor to Volodymyr Zelensky, suggested an international armed patrol force could be created to escort ships carrying grain from Ukraine and ensure their safety. He admitted, however, that there may not be many countries willing to create such patrols.

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