Russia announced on Saturday that it has halted its compliance with a grain deal, brokered by the UN and Türkiye earlier his year. The move came after Ukraine launched a major drone attack on ships involved in securing safe passage for agricultural cargo, the Russian Defense Ministry explained.
In a post on its Telegram channel, the ministry said Russia “is suspending its participation in the implementation of agreements on the export of agricultural products from Ukrainian ports”.
It explained that the move was prompted by “a terror attack” against the ships of the Black Sea Fleet and civilian vessels involved in ensuring the security of the grain corridor. The ministry also alleged that the bombing was organized with the involvement of British military.
The UK Defence Ministry has denied any involvement in the Ukrainian drone attack on the Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol, claiming that Moscow “is resorting to peddling false claims of an epic scale” in an effort to distract the global community from “their disastrous handling of the illegal invasion of Ukraine.”
“This invented story, says more about arguments going on inside the Russian Government than it does about the West,” it added.
Commenting on Russia’s decision to suspend the grain deal, Andrey Ermak, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky’s chief of staff, accused Moscow of “blackmail.”
“Russian blackmail is primitive across the board: blackmail in nuclear, energy and food field,” he stated, adding that all supposed Russian ploys are “too simple and predictable.”
Earlier on Saturday, Russia’s Agriculture Minister Dmitry Patrushev signaled that Moscow is ready, with Türkiye’s help, to send the world’s poorest countries up to 500,000 tons of grain within the next four next months.
He noted that considering this year’s harvest, Russia “is fully ready to replace Ukrainian grain” and arrange deliveries to “all interested countries” at a reasonable price.
“The grain deal not only did not solve the problems of countries in need, but even aggravated them in a sense. We can see where the ships from Ukraine were heading – Italy, Spain, and the Netherlands. For some cargoes, the share of EU countries ranges from 60 to 100%. These are not the states that are experiencing a real food problem,” the minister said.
Russia earlier warned that it could quit the grain deal if an agreement to ease restrictions on its food and fertilizer exports were not implemented. Moreover, following the blast on the strategic Crimean Bridge, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that if turns out that Ukraine – the country that Moscow accused of carrying out the attack – used grain corridors to transport explosives, “it would put the very existence of these corridors in question”.
The breakthrough deal between Moscow and Kiev was reached in Istanbul in July with mediation by the UN and Türkiye. It aimed to unlock agricultural exports via the Black Sea from Russia and Ukraine – two of the world’s leading grain exporters – which had ground to halt due to the conflict between the two nations.