Moscow responds to criticism over grain deal suspension
Russia’s decision to suspend the grain deal with Ukraine was prompted by Kiev’s reckless actions, Moscow’s ambassador to Washington said on Sunday, while describing Western condemnation of the move as unwarranted.
Russia halted its compliance with the agreement, brokered by the UN and Türkiye, after Kiev conducted a major drone attack on ships of the Russian Black Sea Fleet involved in securing safe passage for agricultural cargo.
Speaking to reporters, Anatoly Antonov said: "Washington's reaction to the terrorist attack on the port of Sevastopol is truly outrageous,” adding that the US refrained from condemning “the reckless actions of the Kiev regime.”
Antonov noted the West’s “complete disregard” of Russia’s allegations that the bombing of Russian ships was organized with the involvement of the British military. The UK Ministry of Defence has denied the accusation.
Amid “attacks and provocations against Russian military and merchant vessels involved in the Black Sea Initiative”, Moscow cannot continue operations without paying attention to security issues, Antonov insisted.
The envoy also addressed “insinuations” that Russia is causing global starvation, saying Moscow has repeatedly highlighted the importance of supplying the poorest countries with agricultural goods.
“However, under the grain scheme, a good half of all dry-cargo carriers went to developed countries. At the same time, Somalia, Ethiopia, Yemen, Sudan and Afghanistan received only about 3% of agricultural products,” he noted.
On Saturday, Russia’s Defense Ministry announced that it was suspending the implementation of agreements on the export of agricultural products from Ukrainian ports, citing a Ukrainian “terror attack” against ships of the Black Sea Fleet and civilian vessels involved in ensuring the security of the grain corridor.
US President Joe Biden denounced Moscow’s decision as “purely outrageous,” claiming it would “increase starvation.” “There’s no merit to what they’re doing. The UN negotiated that deal and that should be the end of it,” he said.
Meanwhile, commenting on Russia’s decision to suspend the grain deal, Andrey Ermak, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky’s chief of staff, accused Moscow of “blackmail.”
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, which had come to halt due to the conflict between the two nations. The deal was praised as critical for easing the global food crisis and helping the world’s poorest nations to avoid starvation.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, however, repeatedly accused Western nations of taking over grain exported from Ukraine, instead of allowing it to be delivered to developing countries. Moscow also warned that it could quit the grain deal if an agreement to ease restrictions on its food and fertilizer exports were not implemented.