Russia says it has officially pulled out of the crucial grain deal with Ukraine that allowed ships to enter Black Sea ports and transport the crops to the rest of the world.
The deal was originally brokered by the UN and Turkey but has been operating very slow more recently due to reluctance of Russian staff to inspect the ships.
Since the beginning of the war Ukraine desperately needs to keep exports flowing as it is one of the world’s largest exporters of sunflower, maize, wheat and barley.
Under the terms of the agreement cargo ships could collect grain from the ports of Odessa, Chornomorsk and Yuzhny/Pivdennyi.
In the beginning ships were getting through with few problems and were able to deliver the goods to customers in Africa, Europe and beyond.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov announced on Monday that the agreement had reached a “de facto” end, but added that it could be ratified again if certain conditions were met.
Those conditions relate to the transport of particular agricultural goods out of Russia, which president Putin said were part of the agreement.
Putin alleges that the deal allowed the export of food and fertiliser out of Russia and that these were not happening. He had threatened to pull out of the deal in the past blaming western sanctions which he said were also hindering Russian agricultural exports.
The Russians are bluffing again with the grain deal. It looks like a ritual repeating itself every 60 days.
Kees Huizinga, a Dutch farmer
In response to Russia ditching the deal, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said they intended to continue exporting grain, reiterating that the agreement was made up of 2 deals that mirrored each other, one signed by Ukraine and the other by Russia.
President Zelensky said: “We are not afraid. We were approached by companies who own vessels and they’re willing to continue shipping grain if Ukraine agrees to let them in and Turkey to pass them through.”