Russia has announced that it will continue its involvement in a pact that opens the door for grain exports from Ukraine, reversing a move that international leaders had previously warned would worsen famine around the world.
The reversal was revealed by Russia, whose soldiers invaded Ukraine on February 24, after Turkey and the UN assisted to maintain the supply of Ukrainian food for many days without the involvement of Russian inspectors.
The restart was justified by the defense ministry as a result of assurances from Ukraine that it wouldn’t conduct military operations against Russia through the Black Sea grain corridor.
The statement from the ministry read, “The Russian Federation deems that the guarantees acquired at this time look sufficient, and restarts the implementation of the agreement.”
Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, emphasized the need to resist a “crazy Russian assault that destabilizes international trade.”
By removing a de facto Russian blockade on Ukraine, one of the greatest grain exporters in the world, the grain agreement, originally struck three months ago, had helped ease a worldwide food crisis. Fears of a deepening food crisis and increased prices were rekindled by the possibility of it collapsing this week.
Following Russia’s declaration, the cost of wheat, soybeans, corn, and rapeseed dropped significantly on international markets.
Moscow’s decision, according to Andrey Sizov, chairman of the agriculture consultant Sovecon with a focus on Russia, was “quite an unexpected turnaround,” but the arrangement was still in jeopardy because it was unclear whether it would be extended until its expiration date of November 19.
According to a European source briefed on the grain negotiations, Russian President Vladimir Putin was likely to exploit the need for a delay as leverage to win control of the G20 summit taking place in Indonesia from November 13–16.
Zelensky gave Turkey and the UN credit for allowing ships to keep carrying out cargo from Ukrainian ports after Russia ceased involvement on Saturday.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan claimed that he and Zelenskiy discussed delivering food to African nations in an interview with the Turkish channel ATV. Putin had previously suggested distributing grain to the most in-need nations first, like Djibouti, Somalia, and Sudan.
The July 22 grain agreement aims to increase the supply of wheat, sunflower oil, and fertilizer on the global market to prevent starvation in developing nations.
Following an attack on its navy, Russia withdrew from the agreement, claiming that it could not guarantee the safety of civilian ships traveling through the Black Sea. Threats to the world’s food supply were referred to as “blackmail” by Ukraine and Western nations.