Russia Terminates Black Sea Grain Initiative

Russia Terminates Black Sea Grain Initiative

Russell Nemetz
Russell Nemetz
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres confirmed Monday that Russia has pulled out of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, ending the ability of Ukraine to ship grain through its Odesa ports.

Russia’s termination of the initiative cuts off millions of tons of monthly grain exports, prevents food aid shipments to poor nations and threatens to cause rising food costs for hundreds of millions of people, Guterres said in a press conference.

The initiative, together with a separate deal that guarantees Russian wheat and fertilizer exports, has “been a lifeline for global food security and a beacon of hope … at a time when … the availability of food has been disrupted by conflicts, climate change, energy prices and more,” Guterres said. “These agreements have helped reduce food prices by over 23% since March of last year.”

Ukraine will continue to export wheat and corn by rail through Eastern European countries like Poland as well as via the Danube River, but the initiative offered the best route. Ukraine has exported about 32 million tons of grain and other ag commodities through the three Odesa ports since the UN-led effort between Ukraine, Russia and Turkey was ratified in July of last year.

The initiative has ensured lower food prices and allowed the World Food Program to deliver 725,000 tons of donated Ukrainian wheat to Afghanistan, Yemen and the Horn of Africa.

“Ultimately, participation in these agreements is a choice, but struggling people everywhere in developing countries don’t have a choice,” Guterres said. “Hundreds of millions of people … are confronting a global cost-of-living crisis and they will pay the price. Indeed, we are already seeing sharply higher wheat prices this morning.”

"The breakdown of the Black Sea Grain Initiative is catastrophic,” said Mercy Corps CEO Tjada D'Oyen McKenna. “For many around the world, this is a matter of life and death. To eat, or not to eat. With 24 million people already on the brink of famine, lives will be lost. The question now is how many."

The Kyiv Post quotes Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky saying that Ukraine is “ready to continue” the initiative despite Moscow’s decision, but its difficult to see how shipments continue without Russia’s guarantee of security for grain vessels that need to travel through the Black Sea.

Dmitriy Peskov, speaking at a press conference for Russian media, said, “The arrangements regarding the grain agreement have actually been terminated, it has been stopped," according to a post by the Ukrainian consulting firm APK Inform.

Source: Agri-Pulse

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