After the Ukrainian grain export agreement, signed last July with UN mediation, Russia unblocked the Ukrainian ports and allowed the departure of more than 9 million tons of agricultural products. Moscow’s announcement on October 29 to abandon the agreement once again threatens food security on the planet. Moscow justifies that kyiv attacked Russian ships with drones in Crimea. Ukraine assures that it is a “false” accusation and a pretext to suspend shipments.
A global food crisis is once again latent, in the midst of the war ordered by Vladimir Putin against his neighboring nation.
Only three and a half months lasted the vital agreement to export grains and fertilizers from the invaded country, one of the largest grain producers in the world.
Since Russia ordered the invasion on February 24, its troops have blocked the ports of Ukraine and the planet has witnessed the shortage of some products and their respective inflationary effects.
In addition to the blockades that caused tons of crops to be lost, while food was scarce in other nations, kyiv denounced the burning of its grains, as well as the massive theft of these by the invading troops.
After intense negotiations, mediated by the UN and Turkey, the world received an incentive on July 22. That day Moscow signed, like kyiv, a key agreement to allow the resumption of grain and fertilizer shipments.
How was the agreement on agricultural exports from Ukraine implemented?
The pact established a control center in Istanbul, which included the presence of UN, Turkish, Russian and Ukrainian officials, in charge of managing and coordinating grain and fertilizer shipments.
The agreement included security guarantees for the vessels and the supervision in Turkish territory of the ships leaving from Ukraine, in order to ensure that they were transporting food and not weapons.
kyiv also sought international assurances that the Kremlin would not use safe corridors to attack the Black Sea port of Odessa.
The pact opened the door to release around 22 million tons of grain that were trapped and dozens of ships that remained stranded at the time.
A second agreement signed in parallel authorized the export of Russian food and fertilizers, despite the economic sanctions imposed by the West against Moscow for ordering the conflict.
At the end of July, Russian state agencies reported that the Russian Army was beginning to reopen some ports and gradually the television images showed those transfers that brought hope to calm the food crisis.
On October 26, the United Nations (UN) reported that the agreement allowed around 9 million tons of grain to leave Ukrainian ports, which alleviated supply difficulties.
What consequences are foreseen with the suspension of Russian participation in the agreement?
With the disqualification of the pact, the planet would see great setbacks and a new stagnation in the flow of products from one of the largest exporters of agricultural products.
This situation foresees a strong increase in prices. The evidence is that in the middle of last May, two months before the agreement, the costs of wheat and corn rose to unprecedented levels, according to the UN.
A panorama that brought serious consequences, especially in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, where the Covid-19 pandemic and its effects had already worsened the food situation.
In Ukraine, mainly wheat, corn and barley are grown and exported. According to the European Commission, the attacked nation represents 10% of the world market for wheat, 15% for corn and 13% for barley.
Likewise, the Ukrainian territory is the most important producer in the sunflower oil market, with more than 50% of world trade.
Before the war, several of its products largely supplied countries such as Egypt, China, Turkey, Nigeria, Indonesia, Mexico, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Spain, the Netherlands, Spain, China, Saudi Arabia, Belgium and Germany. , among dozens more.
Russia justifies a drone attack to withdraw from the agreement, but there could be other reasons
The Kremlin was already beginning to show that it viewed the agreement negatively. On Friday, October 28, the Putin government issued a statement noting that only 3% of food exported under the agreement had been destined for poor countries and that Western nations accounted for half of all shipments. .
Moscow’s final blow came this Saturday, October 29, when its Defense Ministry announced that its country was withdrawing from the pact.
The justification? Russia assured that hours earlier its military repelled drone attacks in Sevastopol Bay, on the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea, which it annexed in 2014.
From the Russian Defense portfolio they even accused London of having helped the Ukrainian forces to plan the alleged aggression.
“The attack involved nine unmanned aerial vehicles and seven autonomous marine drones. Due to the measures taken by the ships of the Black Sea fleet, all aerial targets were destroyed,” said Mikhail Razvojayev, the Kremlin-imposed regional governor.
Ukraine immediately replied that these were “false” and fabricated accusations to justify the suspension of exports.
Andriy Yermak, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s chief of staff, accused Russia of “blackmail” and “invented terrorist attacks” on its own premises.
“The primitiveness of Russian blackmail (can be seen) in everything. Nuclear blackmail, energy, food,” said Yermak, one of the main officials of the Ukrainian Executive.
The agreement was scheduled until November 19, so in recent days the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, urged the parties involved to renew it.
The urgency was no less. Its extension was necessary “to contribute to food security throughout the world and cushion the suffering that this global cost of living that the crisis is inflicting on billions of people,” said his spokeswoman.
But Russia was pressing for better benefits from the agricultural export pact.
The Russian ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, maintained that before Moscow discusses an extension of the agreement, his nation “needs to see the export of its grains and fertilizers on the world market, which has never happened since the beginning of the agreement. “, said.
In addition, the Russian Minister of Agriculture, Dmitry Patrushev, stated on this same day that his nation is ready to supply up to 500,000 tons of cereals to poor countries in the next four months for free, with the help of Turkey, and supplant Ukraine’s grain supplies.
His words foresee an attempt to replace Ukrainian agricultural products on the international market.
“Taking into account this year’s harvest, the Russian Federation is fully prepared to replace Ukrainian grain and deliver supplies at affordable prices to all interested countries,” he said.
The UN Assistant Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, Martin Griffiths, had said last Wednesday, October 26, that he was “relatively optimistic” that the agreement would extend beyond mid-November, something that will not finally happen as announced by Moscow.
France24 with Reuters and AP