Russia announced this Monday morning the termination of the Black Sea Grains Initiativethe agreement reached with Türkiye, Ukraine and the UN, which guaranteed the safety of navigation in the northwest of those waters, thus creating a maritime humanitarian corridor through which grain exports left from Ukrainian ports.
In communicating its decision, the Russian government argued that the agreements entered into with Russia were not fulfilled and that, therefore, the pact lost its validity.
He General secretary of the United Nations regretted the measure and affirmed that with it, “Russia will deal a heavy blow to people in need everywhere.”
It was a beacon of hope
In statements to the press in New York, António Guterres affirmed that the initiative – together with the Memorandum of Understanding between Russia and the UN – was a “lifeline” for food security and “a beacon of hope in a troubled world”. whenever helped reduce food prices by more than 23% starting in March of last year.
Guterres recalled that the agreement guaranteed the safe passage of more than 32 million tons of food from the ports of Ukraine and that the World Food Program (WFP) sent more than 725,000 tons to support humanitarian operationsalleviating hunger in some of the world’s hardest-hit places, including Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa and Yemen.
By terminating the pact, in addition to failing to ensure safe navigation in the northwestern Black Sea, Russia stops facilitating unhindered export of food and fertilizer from Ukrainian-controlled ports, as stipulated in the Memorandum of Understanding.
A choice that the world’s poor do not have
Guterres acknowledged that participation in these agreements is a choice“however, neither people in need everywhere nor developing countries have a choice.”
“Hundreds of millions of people face hunger and consumers are facing a global cost of living crisis. They will pay the price,” he stated.
To reinforce his assertion, he stated that there was already a jump in wheat prices today.
Obstacles to Russian exports and letter to Putin
The Secretary General clarified that he was aware that the Russian food and fertilizer exports faced obstacles that persisted.
He added that for this reason he sent a letter to the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, presenting him with a new proposal.
In the letter, Guterres referred to the high volume of Russian grain exports and the stabilization of the fertilizer markets, in addition to underlining the advances in areas of trade as sensitive as the issuance of licenses for imports of Russian products into the United States and other countries involved in its sanctions regime.
Another of the points highlighted in the letter to Putin was the repeal of a section of the ninth package of sanctions from the European Union to allow the unfreezing of assets of fertilizer companies. “These regulatory frameworks, as well as the extensive engagement with the private sector to find dedicated solutions in the banking and insurance sectors, have led to the progressive normalization of business conditions since July 2022, including the decrease in freight rates and safe”, Guterres pointed out in the text.
The unfreezing of assets of Russian fertilizer companies reached the 70% of the original list submitted by Russia in November 2022, with which the UN was able to facilitate humanitarian donations of these supplies to most of the countries in need in Africa.
Guterres’ letter to the Russian executive also highlighted that the UN negotiated a concrete proposal for a subsidiary of the Agricultural Bank of Russia to regain access to SWIFT with the European Commission. “The key element that underpins the political viability of this proposal is that it can be implemented within existing regulations. We see this as a unique political opening, stemming from a genuine desire to protect world food security beyond July 17”, he stressed.
But the missive did not get the answer that the Secretary General would have wanted.
The UN will continue to work for this hungry and suffering world
“I am deeply disappointed that my proposal has not been heard. Russia’s decision will deal a heavy blow to people in need everywhere, ”he insisted.
Despite this setback, the head of the UN asserted that he will continue working to facilitate unimpeded access to world markets for both Ukrainian and Russian food products and fertilizers.
He endorsed the Organization’s commitment to continue promoting world food security and global stability of food prices.
“This will continue to be the focus of my efforts, bearing in mind the increase in human suffering that will inevitably result from today’s decision. We will remain fixed in finding paths for solutions. The stakes are simply too high in a world that is hungry and in pain”, concluded the Secretary General.