Russia May Exclude Ukraine From New Grain Deal – Russia, Turkey, and Qatar are discussing forging a new pact on grain exports as Russia exits the Black Sea Grain Initiative, German newspaper Bild reported on Friday.
The newspaper disclosed that Moscow had previously informed Ankara about its intention to withdraw from the Grain Initiative.
The new arrangement proposes Russia as the primary grain supplier to African nations, with Qatar extending sponsorship for the supplies, while Turkey would take on the role of coordinating the deal.
According to The Telegraph newspaper, Ukrainian officials argue that any grain deal that excludes Kyiv will encourage Russia to take more grain from the areas it occupies. Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban has pushed back against EU sanctions on Russia, making Hungary a potential weak link in Western sanctions. The potential new grain deal may involve the Turkish president and the leader of Qatar and is seen as an effort to boost relations between these countries and Russia.
Turkey’s Foreign Minister, Hakan Fidan, appealed to Russia to reconsider its withdrawal from the former grain agreement, which also facilitated food exports from Ukraine. Furthermore, Turkey aspires to operate “under the auspices of the United Nations (UN).”
Bild highlighted that the fresh deal might be formalized as early as this weekend in Budapest. Rustam Minnikhanov, the leader of Russia’s Tatarstan Republic and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have already arrived in the Hungarian capital.
Filling a Void
These plans for new talks come in the wake of Moscow’s decision to exit the grain agreement on July 17, aiming to address the void left by the breakdown of the pact in the global food market.
The Black Sea grain agreement was brokered on July 22, 2022, between Ukraine and Russia with the involvement of Turkey and the UN. It facilitated the resumption of Ukrainian grain exports via the Black Sea ports, which had been blocked since Russia initiated what it termed a “special military operation” on February 24, 2022.
This blockade had left millions of tons of grain trapped in Ukraine’s silos, leading to skyrocketing food prices and concerns about a worldwide food crisis.
Under the agreement, Ukraine resumed grain exports through its ports in the Odessa region, while Moscow secured guarantees for its grain and fertilizer exports.
The BBC reports that the deal enabled Ukraine to securely export more than 32 million tons of grain and other foodstuffs across the Black Sea despite the ongoing conflict.
This agreement is especially crucial for Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) nations, which depend on Ukrainian wheat and corn imports. Both Ukraine and Russia are significant food suppliers, accounting for 29 percent of global wheat exports and 80 percent of sunflower exports, predominantly through the Black Sea.
Known as one of the world’s primary grain suppliers, Ukraine’s grain exports reached $12.2 billion in 2021, constituting nearly one-fifth of its overall exports.
‘Real People Suffer’
The US Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, has accused Russia of “playing political games,” in which “real people will suffer.”
“The child in the Horn of Africa who is severely malnourished; the mother who will stop producing breast milk for her baby because she doesn’t have enough to eat herself — these are the consequences of Russia’s actions. This is what it looks like when one country decides to hold humanity hostage,” she told the UN Security Council in July.
Axios has also summarized how global charities have slammed Russia’s withdrawal from the deal.
“Humanitarian assistance and things that are a lifeline to people should never be subject to politics,” Mercy Corps’ Phillips-Barasso told the magazine.
She also stressed that the grain deal is “absolutely fundamental, but it’s one piece of the food insecurity puzzle,” particularly as the world’s most vulnerable are often those who feel the impacts of situations they cannot change or events they didn’t create the most, she added.
Georgia Gilholy is a journalist based in the United Kingdom who has been published in Newsweek, The Times of Israel, and the Spectator. Gilholy writes about international politics, culture, and education.
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