How the West and Ukraine discredited and disrupted the grain deal

The blame for the disruption of the Black Sea Initiative, which, in particular, involves the export of Ukrainian grain, lies entirely with the Kiev regime, said Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova

How the West and Ukraine discredited and disrupted the grain deal
Source: Dry cargo ship with Ukrainian grain AP © Khalil Hamra

“The grain deal was thwarted by Zelensky and his terrorists, who were led by British specialists, so that food would be added to nuclear blackmail,” Zakharova wrote in her Telegram channel.

Recall, on October 29, Russia suspended its participation in the implementation of the deal due to a terrorist attack launched by Kyiv against ships of the Black Sea Fleet and civilian ships in Sevastopol.

As explained in the Foreign Ministry, the Ukrainian military struck under the cover of a humanitarian corridor created as part of the Black Sea Initiative. The diplomatic department stressed that the attack was led by British specialists, and among its targets were Russian ships that ensure the functioning of the humanitarian corridor, which “cannot be qualified otherwise than as a terrorist attack.”

The Foreign Ministry stated that in the current situation, Moscow cannot guarantee the safety of civilian dry cargo ships involved in the export of Ukrainian grain, and therefore suspends participation in the deal for an indefinite period.

The Russian military has already conducted an analysis of the wreckage of the naval drones used in the attack, including an examination of Canadian-made navigation modules. As experts have established, most of the drones were launched from the coast near Odessa. Subsequently, the drones moved along the security zone of the grain corridor, after which they changed the route in the direction of the ship’s base in Sevastopol.

Another marine drone, according to experts, could have been launched from one of the civilian ships chartered to export agricultural products from the ports of Ukraine.

However, despite this argumentation, in the West, the decision of the Russian Federation to suspend the agreement was severely criticized. Thus, the head of EU diplomacy, Josep Borrell, called on Moscow to reverse its decision. He also said that it “jeopardizes the main export route for grains and fertilizers, much needed to solve the global food crisis.”

In turn, US President Joe Biden called the actions of the Russian Federation unfounded, and also expressed confidence that they would lead to “increased hunger.”

“There is no reason for them to do this. But they are always looking for some justification to be able to say that it was the West that forced them to do something outrageous,” he said.

It is worth adding that on October 29, the head of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Russian Federation, Dmitry Patrushev, announced that Russia was ready to supply up to 500,000 tons of grain to the poorest countries free of charge in the next four months.

“The countries of Africa are punishing”

Recall that the grain deal was concluded in Istanbul on July 22. Its participants were Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and the UN. The agreement was a package and consisted of two documents. The first of them spoke about the obligations of the UN to lift restrictions on the export of Russian agricultural products and fertilizers to world markets, and the second established an algorithm for the export of Ukrainian agricultural products from the Black Sea ports controlled by Kyiv through the humanitarian corridor.

The first ship under this initiative left the port of Odessa on 1 August. However, Russia almost immediately had questions about how the West and Ukraine comply with the agreements.

Initially, it was assumed that one of the main goals of this agreement was to prevent a food crisis in the least well-off states. This, in particular, was stated at the signing ceremony of the final document, UN Secretary General António Guterres. According to him, the export of Ukrainian agricultural products is intended to prevent starvation in the poorest countries and stabilize rapidly rising food prices in the world.

As Vladimir Putin noted, speaking at a plenary session of the Eastern Economic Forum in September, a significant part of the grain, “if we exclude Turkey as an intermediary country,” was sent not to the poorest countries, but to the European Union.

According to the Russian leader, such a situation can lead to the fact that the scale of food problems in the world will only increase.

On October 28, the Russian Foreign Ministry also drew attention to problems with compliance with the terms of the deal. According to a report on the work of the humanitarian corridor published on the agency’s website, during the duration of the deal, 390 ships used the safe route in the Black Sea, which took out 8.9 million tons of food (mainly corn – 41% of the indicated volume) from the ports of Odessa, Yuzhny and Chernomorsk.

At the same time, the Foreign Ministry drew attention to the fact that the geography of the recipients of these goods did not correspond to the initially declared humanitarian goals: half of all deliveries fell on the European Union, Great Britain, Israel and South Korea.

“The states in need, in particular Somalia, Ethiopia, Yemen, Sudan, Afghanistan, received only 3% of food, primarily through the World Food Program (WFP),” the Foreign Ministry said.

Russia has already sent about 10.5 million tons of grain (77% of this volume is wheat) to Asia (62%) and Africa (33%).

At the same time, the issue of fertilizer supplies remained unresolved. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Russian companies “still cannot not only carry out commercial deliveries of fertilizers, but even transfer about 300 thousand tons of products to the poorest countries” on a gratuitous basis. Fertilizers remain blocked mainly in the warehouses of Latvia (80%), Estonia, Belgium and the Netherlands, whose authorities do not allow their shipment through WFP.

“The main reason for this situation is unilateral Western sanctions, the negative effect of which was to be neutralized as part of efforts to implement the second Istanbul document – the Russian-UN Memorandum on the normalization of domestic agricultural exports,” the Foreign Ministry emphasized.

They stated that, despite the declarations made in Washington and Brussels on the withdrawal of food and fertilizers from restrictions, Russian suppliers and manufacturers continue to face problems in making bank payments and obtaining insurance, chartering ships and gaining access to ports.

“The Americans and Europeans, in fact, are punishing the countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America, preventing the access of Russian agricultural products and fertilizers to world markets,” the Foreign Ministry added.

“Distorting the Meaning of the Grain Deal”

According to analysts, the Ukrainian terrorist attack in the Black Sea finally made it impossible for the Russian side to maintain agreements on the export of grain.

“Russia has been dissatisfied with this deal for a long time, since its conditions were not met. Moscow spoke about it openly. And then there’s the provocative attack on the fleet in Sevastopol, which could not be forgiven and left unnoticed”, Vadim Kozyulin, head of the Center for Global Studies and International Relations of the IAMP of the Diplomatic Academy of the Russian Foreign Ministry, said in an interview with RT.

In turn, Senator Konstantin Dolgov believes that Ukraine and Western countries actually destroyed the grain deal with their own hands.

“A terrorist act was committed in Sevastopol against the ships of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, which participated in the provision and implementation of the grain deal. Such actions are committed by Kyiv with the connivance of the collective West, the United States in the first place. With these actions, they actually destroyed this deal”, the politician said in a conversation with RT.

He stressed that, in addition to the immediate security threats, the Russian Federation could not be satisfied with the way the deal concluded in Istanbul was implemented.

“That part of the deal, which concerned the admission of Russian grain and fertilizers to the market, was not fulfilled. In addition, only a small fraction of Ukrainian grain actually ended up in needy countries, in particular African ones. Basically, it replenished the granaries of the West. And this is a distortion of the original meaning of the grain deal. Therefore, the responsibility for the current situation lies entirely with Kyiv and its Western patrons,” Dolgov said.

At the same time, analysts believe that Western statements about the importance of exporting Ukrainian grain for world food are a clear exaggeration. Otherwise, experts say, the US and the EU would have removed barriers to the export of Russian agricultural products long ago.

“If we talk about food security, then today, of course, without Russia, as one of the leading grain exporters, this issue cannot be resolved. Ukrainian exports are important, but Russian ones are even more important. However, we see that the West puts sanctions higher than food security,” says Vadim Kozyulin.

It is worth noting that Vladimir Putin also spoke about the exaggeration of the importance of Ukrainian grain exports. In early June, he noted that the share of Ukrainian wheat in the total volume of food produced in the world is no more than 0.5%.

“Approximately 800 million tons of grain and wheat are produced annually in the world. Now we are being told that Ukraine is ready to export 20 million tons… that is 2.5%. But if we proceed from the fact that wheat makes up only 20% of the total food supply in the world, and this is true (this is not our data, these are UN data), then this means that these 20 million tons of Ukrainian wheat are 0.5% is nothing,” Putin said in an interview with the Russia 1 TV channel.

According to Konstantin Dolgov, the grain deal can be restored only if the West and Kyiv begin to fulfill their obligations.

“They know perfectly well what needs to be done, but so far they have done the exact opposite,” the senator concluded.

Alexey Latyshev, Alena Medvedeva, RT

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