Russia reverses course and joins agreement on grain exports from Ukraine

(CNN) — Russia has rejoined an agreement guaranteeing safe passage for ships carrying vital grain exports from Ukraine, just days after announcing it was suspending its participation in the pact, Russia’s defense ministry said on Wednesday.

Moscow suspended its participation in the agreement on Saturday, citing drone attacks on the city of Sevastopol in occupied Crimea. On Wednesday, Russia’s defense ministry said it had received “guarantees” allowing it to continue the program.

“The Russian Federation considers that the guarantees received so far seem sufficient and continues with the implementation of the agreement,” according to the ministry’s statement published on its official Telegram channel.

Russia blamed Ukraine for the attacks in Sevastopol. Ukraine has not confirmed that its forces attacked the city, and the extent of the damage caused to the Russian ships is unclear.

Turkey says the deal will resume on Wednesday

After talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said the deal would resume at noon Turkish time on Wednesday, according to Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency.

“After our telephone conversation with Putin yesterday, grain deliveries will continue as planned from today at noon,” Erdogan said at a party meeting in parliament on Wednesday.

Later on Wednesday, Erdogan will talk to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky about the grain deal, Anadolia reports.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) shakes hands with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (left) during a meeting in Sochi, August 5, 2022. (Photo by Vyacheslav Prokofiev and Vyacheslav PROKOFIEV / POOL / AFP )

Turkey, along with the United Nations, cooperated in negotiating the agreement last July.

The agreement established a procedure that ensures the safety of ships transporting grain, fertilizer and other Ukrainian food through the humanitarian corridor in the Black Sea. Under the agreement, all ships entering and leaving Ukrainian ports were inspected and monitored by international teams made up of officials from Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and the UN.

US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield told CNN she was “thrilled” the deal was being revived.

“[El acuerdo] provides the necessary food for the world, so it’s clear that Russia is finally convinced that they have to continue this, they can’t stand in the way of feeding the whole world,” he told CNN This Morning.

world food

Ukraine plays a key role in the global food market, so Russia’s suspension of the contract has caused serious concern at a time when the world is already facing a growing food crisis.

Russia has announced that it is returning to the agreement on grain exports from Ukraine

The Sierra Leone-flagged cargo ship Razoni, with more than 26,000 tons of Ukrainian grain on board, leaves the Odesa region port on Monday.

According to UN data, Ukraine normally supplies the world with about 45 million tons of grain annually. It is among the five largest world exporters of barley, corn and wheat. It is also by far the largest exporter of sunflower oil, with a share of 46% in world exports.

In normal times, Ukraine would export about three quarters of the grain it produces. According to data from the European Commission, about 90% of these exports were previously delivered by sea from Ukrainian Black Sea ports.

But when Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine in late February, it effectively imposed a blockade on ships leaving Ukrainian ports. The impact of the war on world food markets was inevitable and extremely painful, especially since Ukraine is the main supplier of grain to the World Food Program. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, a UN body, said as many as 47 million people could be pushed into “acute food insecurity” because of the war.

The Black Sea Agreement provided much-needed relief. The UN estimates that the reduction in prices of basic foodstuffs as a result of the agreement indirectly prevented about 100 million people from falling into extreme poverty.

It further added that as of Monday, more than 9.5 million metric tons of food products had been exported under the agreement since it came into force in the summer.

Anna Chernova, Hande Atay and Stephanie Halasz contributed to this report.

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