A worker handles wheat grain in a storage granary at the Aranka Malom kft mill in Bicske, Hungary, Tuesday, May 16, 2023. The Black Sea deal has allowed Ukraine to ship more than 30 million tons of products from three major ports, helping bring down world food prices after they soared following the invasion of Russia.
Akos Stiller | Mayor Bloomberg | fake images
WASHINGTON — A landmark farm deal negotiated between Ukraine and Russia is set to expire on Monday, a revelation expected to further exacerbate the global fallout from the ongoing Kremlin war if Moscow refuses to renew the deal.
Last week, Secretary General Antonio Guterres sent a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin outlining proposals to salvage the deal. On Friday, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters that talks with the Kremlin via Signal and WhatsApp would continue through the weekend.
Moscow maintains that the current agreement only supports Ukrainian agricultural products and not Russian fertilizer exports that are also included in the agreement but have not yet gone to global destinations.
On Thursday Putin reiterated Moscow’s position and threatened for the fourth time since the start of the deal not to renew it.
A Ukrainian serviceman stands in front of grain silos at the Black Sea port of Odessa, prior to grain shipment as Ukraine’s government awaits signal from the UN and Turkey to start grain shipments, amid Russian invasion of Ukraine, in Odessa, Ukraine, on July 29. 2022. REUTERS/Nacho Doce
Nacho Twelve | Reuters
Before Russian troops invaded Ukraine’s borders at the end of February 2022, kyiv and Moscow accounted for almost a quarter of world grain exports. Those agricultural shipments were halted for nearly six months until representatives from Ukraine, Russia, the UN and Turkey agreed to establish a humanitarian shipping corridor under the Black Sea Grain Initiative.
The deal, which was negotiated last July, eased Russia’s naval blockade by reopening three key Ukrainian ports.
Under the agreement, more than 1,000 ships carrying nearly 33 million metric tons of agricultural products left the war-weary Ukrainian ports of Odessa, Chornomorsk and Yuzhny-Pivdennyi.
The agreement has also supervised the transportation of 725,167 tons of wheat sail on World Food Program ships to some of the world’s most food insecure countries, including Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.
The UN-backed organization responsible for tracking exports under the deal said in an update on Saturday that for nearly three months, no ships have left the Ukrainian port of Yuzhny-Pivdennyi. What’s more, no new ships have been approved to leave Ukraine for the last two weeks.
‘Not the deal we agreed to’
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Moscow’s top diplomat Sergei Lavrov blamed the West for creating global insecurity and instability.
In April, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned that if the Black Sea Grains Initiative did not incorporate fertilizer products soon, Moscow would not renew the agreement.
“It wasn’t called the grain deal, it was called the Black Sea Initiative and in the text itself the deal stated that this applies to expanding opportunities to export grain and fertilizer.” Lavrov told reporters during an April 26 press conference at the UN
“That’s not the deal we agreed to on July 22,” he said, adding that there are dozens of Russian ships loaded with roughly 200,000 tons of fertilizer waiting to be exported. In addition to the inclusion of fertilizer exports, the Kremlin has also requested the resumption of an oil pipeline that runs through Russia and ends at a Ukrainian port.
However, one of Moscow’s main demands is for the Russian Agricultural Bank, or Rosselkhozbank, to return to the SWIFT banking system.
Moscow’s exclusion from SWIFT, which stands for Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, cut the country off from much of the world’s financial networks in the days after Russia’s full-scale invasion.