Although Russia suspended its participation in an agreement that allowed Ukraine to export its grain by ship, 12 grain-carrying merchant ships sailed from the country’s Black Sea ports on Monday after intermediaries in the deal. Turkey and the United Nations, warns Moscow.
The departures of the ships, which had been allowed to sail before the deal was canceled, appeared to be uneventful.
Moscow’s announcement on Saturday meant having its participation in ship inspections in the port of Istanbul and ensuring the safety of any merchant ship crossing the Black Sea, where it dominates its navy.
The Russian Defense Ministry highlighted this point in a statement on Monday, saying that ship traffic through the security corridor established for the grain initiative was “unacceptable“.
He accused the Ukrainian army, without providing evidence, of using the corridor for “perform operationsagainst Russia and said that “security cannot be guaranteed” until Ukraine agreed not to use it for “military purposes”.
Then the president Vladimir PutinSpeaking at a press conference Monday evening after a meeting with Azerbaijani and Armenian leaders in Sochi, Russia, he reiterated that Russia was halting its involvement in the deal, insisting that Ukraine had the responsibility to ensure the safety of the grain corridor.
Putin has not ruled out that Russia will resume its participation in the wheat deal.
“We are not saying that we stop our participation in this operation,” Putin said.
“We’re saying we’re putting it on pause.”
There were no immediate comments from the Ukrainian government or the UN, which helped broker the initial deal.
Pointing out the potential risks, the Ukrainian army’s southern command said on Monday that the Russian bombing of the Black Sea port of Ochakiv hit two tugs civilians carrying a grain barge.
Two people were killed and another crew member was injured, he said.
The incident and the ships involved did not appear to be directly related to the grain deal.
The statement by the Russian Defense Ministry, along with comments from Russia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Vasily Nebenzya, reported by Interfax that Moscow “cannot allow unhindered passage of ships without our inspection,” notes that the movement of Monday of some ships carrying grain could have been unique.
Some analysts believe that the initiative can still be restarted, because Moscow has simply suspended its participation and has not physically withdrawn its representatives from the office that oversees its implementation in Istanbul.
The Kremlin also sees the deal, which is expected to expire in mid-November if not renewed, as a lever to achieve broader goals, analysts say.
Alexandra Prokopenko, an independent analyst and Russia expert who writes for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said the deal was in fact a “political tool” for the Kremlin.
A Russian goal in any discussion on the possible restoration or renewal of the agreement could be to grant greater exemptions on its food and fertilizer exports from so-called hidden sanctions, like the high cost of ship insurance, he said.
“Russia broke the deal, but opened a loophole for Turkey’s negotiation,” he said, maintaining a presence at the Joint Coordination Center, which houses the team of officials from Russia, Turkey, Ukraine and the United Nations. who monitor the grain. ships.
Turkey was a key intermediary for the Black Sea Grains Initiative agreement, which ensured safe passage to Istanbul for ships carrying agricultural exports from Ukrainian ports, as well as for ships traveling to the country.
Ships are inspected in Istanbul, where the Joint coordination center.
Ukraine is a major exporter of wheat and other grains, and the agreement, signed in July, offered hope for the Ukrainian economy and prospects for relief for countries facing a food crisis.
Russia suspended its participation after an attack on its naval fleet in the Black Sea that it accused Ukraine of, but the president Tayyip Erdogan Turkey said in a speech Monday that its government would continue its efforts to defeat Moscow’s opposition.
World wheat prices rose about 6% at the start of trading on Monday to about $ 8.80 per bushel before stabilizing.
It is much lower than when the full-scale invasion of Russia began in February, when prices soared to over $ 12 per bushel.
Ships carrying around 390,000 tons of agricultural products left Ukrainian ports, including Odessa, on Monday, Bratchuk said. The United Nations and Turkey have informed the Russian authorities, according to Ismini Pal, a spokesperson for the Joint Coordination Center.
Ivan Nechepurenko, Anton Troianovski and Safak Timur contributed to the reporting.
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