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Russia withdraws from the grain deal. “Cynical movement”, “using people’s hunger as a weapon”

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Russia announced on Monday that it was withdrawing from the grain deal. PISM expert Daniel Szeligowski assessed that the purpose of such a decision is to “influence the West” in order to cause “a certain breach in the sanctions” imposed on Moscow. The head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, described the Russian decision as a “cynical move”. Ukraine, in turn, announced an attempt to resume the transport of grain through the Black Sea without Russian participation. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced talks with Vladimir Putin on the matter.

On Monday, the Kremlin announced that on that day the agreement on the export of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea had ceased to apply and that Russia had suspended its participation in the agreement. The deal was concluded in July 2022 by Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and the UN. The agreement has already been extended several times; after the last such extension, the contract expired on 17 July.

Read more: The grain deal expired. There is a decision by the Kremlin

Head of the Eastern Europe program at the Polish Institute of International Studies, Daniel Szeligowski, emphasized in an interview with PAP that the Russians from the beginning perceived the grain deal in the context of the ongoing war in Ukraine as an element of pressure – both on Ukraine and on Western countries, as well as “an instrument aimed at forcing them to make concessions, and finally – to accept Russian terms of a potential peace.”

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– It is about exerting influence on Western countries, especially in this context that there are statements from the EU about the possible loosening of the sanctions regime against Russia. So the Russian side sees these signals sent by the European Union and interprets them unequivocally as a weakness of the Union, as an opportunity to make a certain breach in these sanctions, he stressed.

Vladimir PutinMikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

He pointed out that at the beginning the grain agreement also served the Russian side to potentially cause a food crisis in African countries. – Potentially, because these countries also managed to diversify imports quite quickly. So at this point, the grain deal issue no longer has the same impact on the food supply situation as it did a year ago. However, it may have a short-term impact on food prices in the markets and this increase in prices – especially wheat – we see today on international markets – the expert noted.

According to him, “at the moment Russia is primarily concerned with putting pressure on the West.” – However, whether this will succeed is questionable, because Russia’s unilateral withdrawal is only an element of a wider puzzle – stressed Szeligowski.

Expert: Russia’s decision does not mean interrupting the supply route

According to the PISM expert, this unilateral withdrawal by Russia does not mean that the route on the Black Sea will definitely be interrupted.

– If there is the will of the West and Turkey to ensure the safety of this trade route, I think that the Russians will not find the courage to attack commercial ships sailing through the Black Sea with grain for even African countries. It would be a big risk, especially since it is in Russia’s interest that these states should be at least neutral towards Russia in the international arena and in the UN, he stressed.

See also: Russia’s attack on Ukraine. Coverage at tvn24.pl

The Russians, he added, “periodically try to up the ante and demand further concessions from the West.” – Even the spokesperson’s comments of the Russian Foreign Ministry Maria Zakharowa prove that these are still negotiations with the West. This is a continuation of the current policy, nothing surprising – said the expert.

According to him, the role of the international community is to put pressure on Russia to return to the agreement. – The second option is to help Ukraine in exporting grain by land, for example to ports on the Mediterranean or Baltic Sea, thus avoiding the blockade of the Black Sea, as well as covering the costs of this undertaking – preparation of infrastructure, insurance – said Szeligowski.

Ukraine does not give up the prospect of resuming supplies, also without Russia’s participation

Spokesman for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Serhiy Nikiforov, said that Ukraine saw the prospect of resuming grain exports via the Black Sea, also without Russia’s participation. He added that Kiev will seek Turkey’s support in this matter.

Grain harvestVASSIL DONEV/PAP/EPA

– Even without the Russian Federation, everything must be done so that we can use the Black Sea Corridor. We are not afraid,” Nikiforov said, quoting the Ukrainian president. – Companies and shipowners came to us. They said they were ready (…) to continue delivering grain, he added.

‘Act of Cruelty’ That Will ‘Harm Millions’

“Cynical move” – ‚Äč‚Äčthis is how Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, summed up Russia’s withdrawal from the agreement on Monday. The head of the European Commission also assured that European Union will continue to work to ensure food security for poor countries.

High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell stated that Russia’s action “will cause a lot of problems for many people around the world”, calling the decision “completely unjustified, using people’s hunger as a weapon.”

The White House said Russia’s decision “would worsen food security and harm millions.” “We call on the Russian authorities to immediately reverse their decision,” White House National Security Council spokesman Adam Hodge said in a statement.

The last ship of the grain initiative left OdessaReuters

The US representative to the UN called Moscow’s action “an act of cruelty”. The Beijing ambassador expressed the hope that “by taking into account the concerns of all parties” it will be possible to find solutions that will allow grain transport to resume.

Deputy spokeswoman for the German government, Christiane Hoffmann, said the federal government is appealing to Russia to allow a further extension of the contract. Conflicts “should not be carried out on the shoulders of the poorest on the planet,” said Hoffmann, quoted by the ARD television portal.

The German government also counts on the fact that in the future the agreement will not always be concluded for a short period, but that grain exports from Ukraine will also be possible in the long term.

Erdogan announces talks with Putin

President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan he said he still “believes that Vladimir Putin wants the grain deal to continue.” He told reporters that he intended to discuss the issue with Putin personally. Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan is also expected to raise the topic in a Monday conversation with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan in conversation with Vladimir PutinMurat Kula/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Grain transported from Ukraine via the sea corridor created under the agreement went to Europe (40%), Asia (30%), Turkey (13%), Africa (12%) and the Middle East (5%). The first ship – sailing under the flag of Sierra Leone – left the port of Odessa in August 2022 and transported 26,000 people to Lebanon. tons of corn. On Sunday, also from Odessa, the last ship left under the agreement.

Read more: The last grain initiative ship left Odessa the day before the agreement with Russia expired

Turkey’s Anatolia news agency recalls that Turkish authorities have regularly engaged in efforts to uphold the grain deal, and recently Erdogan held telephone conversations with the presidents of Russia and Ukraine.

Main photo source: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images



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