July 18, 2023


Russia pulls out of Black Sea grain export deal with Ukraine




The deal allowing Ukraine to safely export grain via the Black Sea has officially expired after Russia pulled out of the crucial agreement.


Moscow notified the United Nations, Turkey and Ukraine on July 17 that it would not renew the deal, accusing the West of not keeping its side of the bargain. Russia said it would return to the agreement if its conditions were met.


The deal formally came to an end at midnight on July 18, Istanbul time (2100 GMT). It had let cargo ships pass through the Black Sea from the ports of Odesa, Chornomorsk and Yuzhny/Pivdennyi.


Russian President Vladimir Putin had long complained that parts of the deal allowing the export of Russian food and fertilisers had not been honoured. In particular, he said grain had not been supplied to poorer countries, which was a condition of the agreement.


Russia also repeatedly complained that Western sanctions were restricting its own agricultural exports.


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters he believed that Putin "wants to continue the agreement" and that they would discuss the renewal of the deal when they meet in person next month.


Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said his country intended to continue exporting grain, highlighting that the agreement was made up of two deals that mirrored each other - one signed by Ukraine and the other by Russia.


Meanwhile, Nikolay Gorbachev, the president of the Ukrainian Grain Association, told the BBC that his members had identified alternative means of exporting grain - including through its Danube River ports. But he conceded that the ports would be less efficient, reducing the amount of grain Ukraine can export and raising the cost of moving it.


Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who heads the World Trade Organization (WTO), said Black Sea trade in food, feed and fertiliser was "critical to the stability of global food prices," adding that hope must be kept alive that Moscow would reconsider pulling out of the deal.


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