They warn that Russia’s exit from the grain deal threatens to worsen the food crisis in the world

Turkey and the United Nations began talks on Sunday for Moscow to return to the initiative, which allowed more than 9 million tons of grain to leave Ukrainian ports safely.

The Turkish government and the UN began talks with Russia on Sunday to get Moscow back on the grain and fertilizer export deal with Ukraine, which it abandoned on Saturday after denouncing an attack on Kyiv against his ships in the Crimean port of Sevastopol. Kyiv denied the attack.

Moscow has thus reduced grain exports that are urgently needed in other parts of the world, a situation that US President Joe Biden called a “truly outrageous” act. “There is no merit in what they are doing. The UN brokered this deal and this should be the end,” the president said.

This initiative has allowed more than 9 million tonnes of grain in 397 ships to safely leave Ukrainian ports since the agreement was signed on July 22. Thus, more than 9.5 million tons of cereals and other foodstuffs have been exported from Ukraine until October 24, according to the United Nations office overseeing its implementation. If shipments do not resume, experts have warned, global food prices could rise further, creating new economic problems for countries already struggling with rising inflation and energy prices.

The Turkish-flagged Polarnet cargo ship carrying Ukrainian grain crosses the Osmangazi Bridge and enters the Gulf of Izmit, Turkey, August 8, 2022. Photo: Reuters

While the Kremlin’s announcement surprised grain traders and analysts who, while doubting the deal would have lasted beyond the Nov. 19 deadline, did not expect an abrupt termination.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on Twitter that he was in touch with the other parties to the deal to remind them that the now-suspended initiative is “for the good of all humanity”. “Crises can be resolved through goodwill and dialogue,” he said.

A government official in Ankara, on condition of anonymity, confirmed to Bloomberg that negotiations would continue on Monday if they failed to achieve any progress throughout the day. The same source claimed that “there are reasons for optimism” despite the fact that Russia assured the day before that its withdrawal from the agreement, mediated at the time by Turkey, would have an “indefinite “.

The UN Joint Coordination Center had already advanced on Saturday the practical impossibility of continuing exports after the Russian withdrawal after confirming that “there is no current protocol” for the movement of ships entering or leaving from this Sunday. The international body is “discussing next steps” after Russia’s decision.

A ship carrying 40,000 tonnes of grain bound for Ethiopia under the UN aid program was unable to leave Ukraine on Sunday due to the Russian blockade, Oleksandr Kubrakov, Ukraine’s Infrastructure Minister, tweeted . He did not specify from which Ukrainian port the Ikraia Angel was to leave.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar attend a signing ceremony in Istanbul, Turkey, July 22, 2022. Photo: Reuters

Ukrainian President Volodimyr Zelenskyy called the decision predictable and said Russia had deliberately escalated the food crisis since September. Currently, there are about 176 ships loaded with grain that cannot leave Ukrainian ports, he said.

“It’s food for over 7 million consumers…Why can a handful of people somewhere in the Kremlin decide whether there will be food on people’s tables in Egypt or Bangladesh?” , he said in his evening message to the country on Saturday.

Russia has requested a meeting of the UN Security Council on Monday to discuss the alleged attack and the security of the Black Sea grain corridor. Guterres delayed a trip to Algiers for a day for talks aimed at ending Russia’s suspension of the grain export deal.

As Russian forces fight in eastern and southern Ukraine, analysts – consulted by The New York Times – say President Vladimir Putin could use the grain deal in part as a tool of war to overcome shortcomings in its army and maintain pressure on western Ukraine. allies.

Moscow also argued that much of the grain was being shipped to wealthy countries, not those that needed it most. UN officials said many ships carry grain purchased under commercial contracts, which plays a role in stabilizing the market, although it does not go directly to countries facing food shortages.

“Putin needs influence as things turn sour for him on the battlefields in Ukraine, so the threat of a global food crisis must be put back into the Russian toolbox of coercion and blackmail,” he tweeted. Alexander Gabuev, member of the Carnegie think tank. .

But Russia’s move, he added, threatened to antagonize two important allies: Saudi Arabia, which fears a worsening global food crisis could fuel instability in the Middle East, and the Turkey, which has become an influential intermediary in the war.

Turkey, which controls the strategic strait where ships enter and exit the Black Sea, was the key international player in the grain deal, providing the site where Ukrainian exports were inspected by a joint command that includes Ukrainian, Russian and United Nations officials. .

Separately, Moscow this month stepped up its missile and drone attacks on Ukraine’s power plants, running water facilities and other key infrastructure. The offensive damaged 40% of Ukraine’s electricity network and forced the government to schedule power cuts.

In the past 24 hours, Russian missiles have killed at least five people and injured nine, according to a statement. In the intense fighting in eastern Ukraine, Russia is trying to take the city of Bakhmut and several centers and towns in the region have been attacked.

Source: Latercera


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