Russia announced on Monday its withdrawal from the international agreement that allowed Ukraine to resume its Black Sea grain exports. The abrupt termination of the deal raises significant worries about a vital link in the global food supply chain.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov confirmed the withdrawal, stating that Russia would consider rejoining the agreement only if its demands were met. This decision by Russia comes as no surprise, as the country has repeatedly threatened to pull out of the agreement, citing sanctions that it claims hinder its food and fertilizer exports.
Also, the President of the Russian Grain Union, Arkady Zlochevsky told TASS, “The termination of the grain deal is not critical for Russia, it brought only harm and nothing good. The Russian grain market will only benefit from the termination of the grain deal.”
“As a result of the implementation of this agreement, today we are trading at a discount of $10-20, with a historical high of $70. This is the money we are losing, our grain supplies are losing,” continued Zlochevsky.
Last year, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine forced a complete halt in exports from Ukraine’s main Black Sea ports. This disruption contributed to a surge in global food prices and exacerbated concerns that millions of people around the world could face starvation. The agreement, signed in Istanbul in July of last year and facilitated by the United Nations, allowed Ukrainian exporters to resume shipping corn, wheat, sunflower oil, and other goods from three ports near Odesa.
Since shipments resumed in August of last year, Ukraine has successfully exported more than 32 million tons of food products.
Turkish President Erdogan, who played a key role in brokering the deal, expressed his belief that Russian President Vladimir Putin still wants to maintain the agreement, despite the withdrawal announcement. Erdogan intends to discuss the matter directly with Putin.
Negotiations for a possible extension of the agreement commenced in Istanbul on Monday afternoon, according to a spokesperson from the Ukrainian Embassy in Turkey.
The uncertainty surrounding the agreement’s renewal has effectively halted operations in the Black Sea shipping corridor. No new ships have been authorized to enter or exit since June 27, causing significant disruptions to global trade and the stability of the food supply chain, as confirmed by the United Nations.
Russia, known as a major agricultural exporter, had a record-breaking crop last year and currently holds substantial stockpiles, which has resulted in lower prices and reduced profits for Russian farmers. Russian grain exports are projected to reach an all-time high this month, further solidifying the country’s dominant position in the global agricultural market.
Furthermore, Western and Ukrainian officials have reported instances of Russian obstruction that have impeded the functioning of the Black Sea maritime corridor. Russian officials stationed at a coordination center in Istanbul have deliberately slowed down the work of inspection teams, severely limiting the number of ships passing through the Black Sea. This obstruction has intensified challenges faced by the shipping industry and raised concerns about the reliability and efficiency of this crucial maritime route.
The future of the agreement remains uncertain, causing heightened anxiety among the international community. The potential consequences of Russia’s withdrawal from the agreement for global food security and trade are significant.