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31 Oct, 2022 15:03

Russia offers alternative to Ukraine ‘grain deal’

Moscow could provide poorer nations with grain from its own stocks, the Kremlin said
Russia offers alternative to Ukraine ‘grain deal’

Russia is ready to provide poorer grain-importing nations with supplies from its own stocks to replace Ukrainian exports, Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov told journalists on Monday. Earlier, Russia suspended its participation in the so-called “grain deal” with Ukraine following an attack on its navy base in Sevastopol.

“We can guarantee the Russian side’s readiness to compensate for the missing [grain export] volumes from its own stocks,” Peskov said. Earlier, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said Moscow would continue to support African nations despite halting its compliance with the pact.

The Kremlin spokesman also said only a tiny portion of all Ukrainian agricultural products exported under the deal were destined for the poorest nations anyway, while “not-so-poor nations located in Europe got the rest.” 

Moscow also believes that the grain deal between Russia and Ukraine, which was reached in Istanbul with UN and Turkish mediation, is now in limbo for security reasons.

“The deal could hardly be implemented when Russia says it cannot guarantee maritime security in the designated waters” of the Black Sea, Peskov said, adding that the implementation of the agreement is now “much more risky, dangerous and not guaranteed.” 

The Kremlin has not said the deal is dead altogether, however. Moscow is “still in contact” with other parties, including the UN and Türkiye, Peskov said. Currently, Russia is “not ready to say” what conditions would have to be met for it to resume its participation in the deal.

Under the agreement reached in July, Russia provided a secure “grain corridor” through the Black Sea to facilitate the exportation of Ukrainian agricultural products. The agreement was praised as critical for easing the global food crisis and helping the world’s poorest nations to avoid starvation. Last week’s decision by Russia to halt its compliance with the deal caused a grain price surge.

Moscow suspended its participation in the deal after a massive drone attack on its naval base in the Crimean port city of Sevastopol. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the naval drones launched as part of the attack used the grain corridor to reach their targets and one of them may even have been launched from a civilian vessel supposedly chartered to ship Ukrainian grain.