Global food security at stake as Russia kills Ukraine grain deal

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MOSCOW: In a sudden development, Russia announced on Monday it would no longer be participating in a significant UN-brokered agreement that allowed Ukrainian grain to be exported to the world through the Black Sea — a move that is bound to worsen the commodities crisis.

The deal, brokered by the United Nations and Turkey last July, aimed to alleviate a global food crisis by allowing Ukrainian grain blocked by the Russia-Ukraine conflict to be exported safely.

The last ship left Ukraine under the deal on Sunday. Russia’s February 2022 invasion and blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports sent global grain prices soaring. Ukraine and Russia are among the world’s top grain exporters.

Nearly 33 million metric tons of corn, wheat and other grains have been exported by Ukraine under the arrangement.

Russia has officially notified Turkey, Ukraine and the United Nations that it is against extending the Black Sea grain export deal, the RIA news agency reported on Monday, citing Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.

This decision came just hours after Moscow accused Ukraine of attacking the Crimean bridge.

The attack on the 19-kilometre road and rail bridge, which connects Russia to Crimea, was portrayed by Russia as a terrorist act targeting a crucial route for Russian troops involved in the conflict in Ukraine.

The bridge, a project personally inaugurated by President Vladimir Putin, holds significant prestige for Russia.

Tragically, two individuals lost their lives in the blasts, while their daughter sustained injuries.

Despite the timing, the Kremlin emphasized that the suspension of the grain agreement was unrelated to the bridge attack.

According to Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov, Russia’s decision was based on the fact that certain aspects of the Black Sea grain deal, which aimed to address the global food crisis exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, were not fulfilled.

Consequently, Russia declared the agreement null and void, with the intention of rejoining once the conditions pertaining to Russia were met.

The agreement, originally set to expire on Monday, now faces an uncertain future.

While the Ukrainian military suggested that the attack could potentially be a provocation orchestrated by Russia itself, local media sources, citing unidentified sources, point towards Ukraine’s Security Service as the responsible party behind the incident.

Further investigation is underway to determine the true culprits behind this tragic event.