UNITED NATIONS: A deal allowing the safe Black Sea export of Ukraine’s grain for the past year expired on Monday after Russia quit and warned it could not guarantee the safety of ships in a move the United Nations said would “strike a blow to people in need everywhere”.

Moscow suggested that if demands to improve exports of its own grain and fertiliser were met it would consider resurrecting the Black Sea agreement.

“Only upon receipt of concrete results, and not promises and assurances, will Russia be ready to consider restoring the deal,” said Russia’s foreign ministry.

The Black Sea deal was brokered by the UN and Turkiye in July last year to combat a global food crisis worsened by Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine. Ukraine and Russia are among the world’s top grain exporters.

UN terms Moscow’s move ‘blow to people in need everywhere’; US terms it ‘act of cruelty’

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Monday everything must be done so that the Black Sea grain export corridor continues to be used, his spokesperson said.

“Today’s decision by the Russian Federation will strike a blow to people in need everywhere,” UN chief Guterres told reporters.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield described Moscow’s move as an “act of cruelty”.

The head of the World Trade Organisation said she was “deeply disappointed” by the end of the Black Sea grain deal, which she described as essential to ensuring the stability of global food prices.

European Union Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called Russia’s decision a “cynical move”.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said he believed Putin wants the continuation of the deal, adding that he will discuss it when they meet in person in August.

Published in Dawn, July 18th, 2023

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