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  4. Russia terminates Black Sea grain deal despite knowing catastrophic effect on global food security I EXPLAINED

Russia terminates Black Sea grain deal despite knowing catastrophic effect on global food security I EXPLAINED

It is worth mentioning Russia and Ukraine account for major wheat exports to the world, especially African nations. It exports shipments through the Black Sea. However, following the relentless war, Moscow blocked the route, resulting in spiralling costs of wheat, and cereals.

Written By: Ajeet Kumar @Ajeet1994 Moscow Published on: July 18, 2023 20:33 IST
Russia terminated the Black Sea grain deal: Impact
Image Source : AP Russia terminated the Black Sea grain deal: Impact

Story so far: Russia on Monday blocked the movement of grain vessels through the Black Sea following a massive explosion that killed at least two people and halted traffic briefly. The route which was blocked since February last year was resumed after Turkey and the United Nations intervened in the matter and persuaded Moscow to resume amid the fact the two nations account for the most considerable export of agricultural products to the developing nations. However, on Monday, the Kremlin announced blocking the agreement arguing "the part of the Black Sea agreement that concerns Russia has not yet been fulfilled".

What is the Russia-Ukraine grain deal? 

It is worth mentioning Russia and Ukraine account for major wheat exports to the world, especially African nations. It exports shipments through the Black Sea. However, following the relentless war, Moscow blocked the route, resulting in spiralling costs of wheat, cereals and other agricultural products.

This also showcased the worst impact on African nations. In fact, several countries were on the verge of starvation. In April 2022, the Secretary-General met with Russian President Vladimir Putin and with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to propose the plan.

Subsequently, on July 27 last year, the United Nations and Turkey brokered a deal in Istanbul which was dubbed a "grain deal".

What does Russia say behind the decision? 

Although there were speculations that the Kremlin's latest came in line with the Crimean Bridge explosion, President's spokesperson Dmitry Peskov clarified that Moscow had notified Kyiv about the same earlier. Kremlin spokesperson asserted that today's decision was "unrelated" to an overnight attack on the bridge, which he called a “terrorist act” and blamed on Ukraine.

In fact, he warned that Moscow would continue the suspension unless and until its demands to get its own agricultural shipments to the world were met positively.

In contradiction, the ship data shows, that tracks the movement of vessels moving in the sea, Moscow has been shipping record amounts of wheat and its fertilizers.

What United Nations say?

The resumption of Ukrainian grain exports via the Black Sea amid the ongoing war is “a beacon of hope” in a world that desperately needs it, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had said at the signing ceremony on 27 July in Istanbul.

"Today’s decision by Russia to terminate the implementation of the Black Sea Initiative will strike a blow to people in need everywhere. But it will not stop our efforts to advance global food security & price stability. There is too much at stake in a hungry & hurting world," he wrote.

What does Ukraine say?

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's Office has reacted sharply to the development and called it a "violation of international norms" and argued that "the Black Sea is not Russia's internal waters and is not subject to its jurisdiction".

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to the Head of the Office of the President, underscored that grain cannot be a legitimate military target and added Ukraine has agency in terms of working with external partners. Further, he stressed that several countries need Ukrainian grain in the direct sense of the word.

"If a bunch of people somewhere in the Kremlin think that they supposedly have the right to decide whether food will be on the table in different countries: Egypt or Sudan, Yemen or Bangladesh, China or India, Türkiye or Indonesia... then the world has an opportunity to show that blackmail is not allowed to anyone," Zelenskyy said in a video address.

 

Impact: Wheat prices increase sharply

According to a UN report, the Black Sea Grain Initiative has reportedly allowed the export of 36.2 million tons of food from Ukraine to the world, especially African nations. In fact, Zelenskyy has often dubbed the grain export as the ‘breadbasket of the world’. Besides, more than 79 countries are heavily dependent on grain export amid the fact climate change wreaks havoc across continents and destroys crops. 

According to multiple media reports, wheat prices took a sharp jump of 3.5 percent barely minutes after the development hit the headlines across the world. Before the war, Russia and Ukraine together accounted for 25% of the global grain supply. 

“You will have a new spike for sure (if the deal isn’t renewed). The duration of that spike will depend a lot on how markets will respond," news agency Associated Press had quoted UN Food and Agriculture Organisation chief economist Maximo Torero as saying.

Also Read: Ukraine staunch reply to Russia's grain deal termination: 'Black Sea is not Kremlin's internal waters'

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