Russia Says Ukraine Grain Export Deal ‘Ended’

The Kremlin announced on Monday that it was pulling out of a vital agreement allowing Ukraine grain exports, only hours after drones hit Russia’s only bridge connecting its mainland to the occupied Crimea peninsula.

Moscow claimed the deadly Kerch bridge attack had nothing to do with its withdrawal and has been complaining for months about the pact’s execution, which was intended to alleviate fears of food shortages in vulnerable countries.

“The grain deal has ceased. As soon as the Russian part (of the agreements) are fulfilled, the Russian side will immediately return to the grain deal,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, adding the move was not linked to the strike.

The revelation came just hours after drones attacked the only route connecting Russia to the occupied Crimean peninsula, a vital supply line for Russian military resupplying frontlines in Ukraine’s south.

A security agency source told AFP that Kyiv’s navy and SBU security service carried out a “special operation” using seaborne drones.

According to Russian police, a civilian couple was killed and their daughter was injured in the attack on the bridge, which was also destroyed last year in a blast attributed by Kyiv.

Crimea bridge blast

Local officials stated that traffic had been blocked and asked tourists to remain in their accommodations. Russians traveling to and from Crimea were encouraged by officials to pass via occupied Ukrainian territory.

The Kremlin stated that Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered “repair and restoration work” on the bridge, as well as assistance for motorists delayed in traffic.

almost the last year, the Black Sea Grain Initiative has permitted the cargo export of almost 32 million tonnes of Ukrainian grain.

But those transports have come to a halt because of Russia’s refusal so far to renew the deal.

“The applications have not been approved by all parties,” said a statement from the Joint Coordination Centre (JCC) that oversees the agreement. “No new ships have been approved to participate since 27 June.”

Putin signaled Russia’s intention to abandon the pact just last week, claiming that the arrangement struck by the UN and Turkey violated Moscow’s interests.

Moscow also informed Turkey, Ukraine, and the United Nations that it would not be extending the agreement, according to Russian news outlets citing the foreign ministry.

The German government responded to the news by encouraging Moscow to extend the agreement, stating that the “conflict should not be carried out on the backs of the world’s poorest,” who rely on Ukrainian grain supplies.

Russia’s objections

Despite the Kremlin’s statements, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan appeared optimistic about the prospects of the grain deal being maintained.

“I think that despite today’s statement, my friend Putin wants to continue the agreement” that allows the export of Ukrainian grain to the Black Sea, which is due to expire at 2100 GMT.

However, Putin has repeatedly threatened to withdraw from the agreement, claiming that provisions allowing the export of Russian grain and fertilizer have not been honored.

According to JCC data, China and Turkey, as well as developed nations, are the primary recipients of grain shipments.

The agreement has enabled the World Food Programme to provide assistance to nations facing significant food shortages, such as Afghanistan, Sudan, and Yemen.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has been working hard to renew the agreement and favors reducing barriers to Russia’s fertilizer exports.

Fierce fighting

Ukraine’s counteroffensive was also moving forward, with Kyiv claiming on Monday that its forces had retaken several square kilometers of terrain near the eastern city of Bakhmut, which Russian forces had seized in May.

Bakhmut, previously home to 70,000 people and famous for its sparkling wine and salt mine, has been completely destroyed by the war’s longest and bloodiest combat.

In the Kupyansk area of Kharkiv region Russian forces had been “actively advancing since the end of last week,” Ukraine’s Deputy Defence Minister Ganna Malyar said.

Kyiv last month began its highly anticipated fightback against entrenched Russian troops after stockpiling Western weapons and building up its offensive forces.

But it has acknowledged slow progress and called on the United States and other allies to provide more long-range weapons and artillery.

“People should understand what price we pay for (advancing),” a commander on the ground, “Bulat”, told AFP. “There are a lot of enemies. We need time to grind them down.”

 

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