Russia is resuming participation in a deal to unblock grain exports from Ukraine, recognizing that the initiative would work without the Kremlin’s involvement, a senior Ukrainian official said on Wednesday.
Housing adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said in a statement that Moscow’s decision shows Russian “blackmail” and “escalation and threats” fail when met with a firm response.
“One way or another, Russia embarrassedly returned to the ‘Grain Initiative’ because it suddenly turned out that the Grain Corridor would work without the Kremlin’s involvement,” Podolyak said.
“That says only one thing: Russia is always inferior to the stronger, to those who can take a hit, to those who defend their position strongly.”
Diplomatic efforts saved a war deal that allowed Ukrainian grain and other goods to reach world markets. Russia on Wednesday said it would honor the deal after Ukraine vowed not to use a designated Black Sea corridor to attack Russian forces.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said in a statement that Ukraine has formally committed to using the established safe shipping corridor between southern Ukraine and Turkey “only in accordance with the terms” of the agreement.
“The Russian Federation considers that the guarantees received seem sufficient at this time and is resuming the implementation of the agreement,” the ministry said, adding that mediation by the United Nations and Turkey has ensured Russia’s further cooperation.
Russia suspended its participation in the grain deal over the weekend, citing allegations of a Ukrainian drone strike on its Black Sea fleet in Crimea. Ukraine took no responsibility for the attack, which some Ukrainian officials accused Russian soldiers of mishandling their own weapons.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told Turkey’s defense minister on Wednesday midday that the humanitarian grain corridor agreement would “continue in the same way as before”.
Erdogan said the renewed deal will prioritize shipments to African countries including Somalia, Djibouti and Sudan, in line with Russia’s concerns that most of the grain exported has ended up in wealthier countries since Moscow and Kyiv signed separate agreements with the EU in July Turkey and the UN would have met .
Martin Griffiths, the UN humanitarian chief, said Monday that 23 percent of all cargo exported from Ukraine under the grain deal went to low- and middle-income countries, which also received 49 percent of all wheat shipments.
Ships loaded with grain left Ukraine on Tuesday, even though Russia ended its support for the deal aimed at ensuring the safe passage of critical food supplies for parts of the world struggling with hunger. But the United Nations had said the ships would not move on Wednesday, raising concerns about future deliveries.
The United Nations and Turkey negotiated separate deals with Russia and Ukraine in July to ensure Africa, the Middle East and parts of Asia receive grain and other food from the Black Sea region during Russia’s eight-month war in Ukraine.
Ukraine and Russia are major global exporters of wheat, barley, sunflower oil and other foods to developing countries, where many are already struggling with hunger. A loss of those supplies before the grain deal was negotiated in July sent global food prices skyrocketing and helped push millions into poverty, along with rising energy costs.
The grain deal cut global food prices by about 15 percent from their peak in March, the UN said. Losing Ukrainian supplies would have meant poorer countries would have to pay more to import grain in a tight global market as countries like Argentina and the United States grapple with dry weather, analysts say.
After the announcement that Russia would rejoin the deal, wheat futures prices erased gains posted on Monday and fell more than 6 percent in Chicago.
At least a third of grain shipped in the last three months went to the Middle East and North Africa, and while much of the corn went to Europe, “that’s the traditional buyer for corn from Ukraine. It’s not like it’s that unusual,” said Joseph Faithr, senior research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington.
He added that more wheat is being shipped to sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, which have become increasingly important buyers of Ukrainian grain.
In Ukraine, thousands of homes in the Kyiv region and elsewhere were left without power on Wednesday, officials said on Wednesday, as Russian drone and artillery strikes continued to target Ukraine’s energy infrastructure.
Kyiv region governor Oleksiy Kukeba said 16,000 homes were without power and drones had attacked power plants in the Cherkasy region south of the capital, causing power outages.
Although electricity and water have been restored in the city of Kyiv, Kuleba did not rule out “weeks” of power shortages if Russian forces continue to attack power plants there. In a Telegram post, he accused Russian forces of trying to create a serious humanitarian crisis.
Power outages were also reported in the southern cities of Nikopol and Chervonohryhorivka after “a large-scale drone strike,” Dnipropetrovsk governor Valentyn Reznichenko said.
The two cities are across the Dnieper River from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Europe’s largest nuclear facility. Russia and Ukraine have for months traded blame for shelling in and around the facility, which the United Nations nuclear watchdog has warned could cause a radiation emergency.
According to the office of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, continued Russian shelling of nine regions in southern and eastern Ukraine between Tuesday and Wednesday left at least four civilians dead and 17 others wounded.
The shelling also hit towns and villages in the northeastern Kharkiv region that were recaptured from Ukraine last month, injuring seven people.
Russian fires damaged a hospital, apartment buildings in the city of Toretsk, Donetsk region. Donetsk Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said Wednesday Ukrainian and Russian forces continued to fight for control of the towns of Avdiivka and Bakhmut, both key targets of a Russian offensive in the region.
In southern Ukraine, Russian-installed authorities in the occupied Kherson region moved civilians some 90 km further into Russian-held territory in anticipation of a major Ukrainian counterattack to retake the provincial capital of the same name. Russian forces dug trenches in preparation for the expected ground attack.
Kremlin-appointed Kherson region officials on Tuesday expanded an evacuation zone to include people living within a 15 km radius of the Dnieper. They said 70,000 residents from the extended evacuation zone would be relocated this week, doubling the number previously relocated.
https://www.independent.ie/world-news/europe/russia-resumes-deal-on-ukraine-grain-exports-after-turkey-brokered-deal-42113366.html Russia resumes deal on Ukrainian grain exports after Turkey-brokered deal