A day after pulling out of the wartime grain deal and renewing global fears over food security, the Kremlin has warned that shipping grain out of Ukrainian Black Sea ports could be risky in the absence of Russian security guarantees, claiming Ukraine uses the waters for military activities.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov issued the warning on Tuesday, amid suggestions that Turkey could step in to protect Ukrainian grain shipments.
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The Black Sea grain deal brokered by the United Nations and Turkey was signed by Russia and Ukraine last July to ensure that Ukrainian ships could transport grain from its Black Sea ports of Yuzhny, Odesa and Chornomorsk to the Bosporus, without being attacked.
With it came a separate agreement to facilitate shipments of Russian food and fertiliser, but Moscow has long complained that parts of the deal relating to these exports have not been implemented.
As Russia withdrew on Monday, officials said their repetitive demands to boost Russian grain and fertiliser exports through the pact had not been met.
In a statement on Telegram, Russia’s foreign ministry said Moscow’s termination of the deal also means the “withdrawal of navigation safety guarantees, curtailment of the maritime humanitarian corridor, and restoration of the regime of a temporarily dangerous area in the northwestern Black Sea”.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a statement, “Even without the Russian Federation, everything must be done so that we can use this Black Sea corridor.”
“We are not afraid. We were approached by companies that own ships. They said that they are ready, if Ukraine and Turkey are ready to continue, then everyone is ready to continue supplying grain,” Zelenskyy added.
The Ukrainian leader has been in talks with the UN chief Antonio Guterres to discuss restoring grain supply through the Black Sea routes.
World leaders have condemned Moscow for backing out of the deal, saying the move threatens global food security and will lead to a hike in prices.
“Hundreds of millions of people face hunger and consumers are confronting a global cost-of-living crisis,” Guterres said in a statement.
But Peskov rejected such criticisms and highlighted that Moscow would supply grain to poor countries in need.