All eyes on China after Russia leaves Black Sea grain deal

All eyes on China after Russia leaves Black Sea grain deal

Reuters reports:

Russia halted participation on Monday in the year-old U.N.-brokered deal that lets Ukraine export grain through the Black Sea, spreading fear in poorer countries that price rises will put food out of reach.

Hours earlier, a blast knocked out Russia’s bridge to Crimea in what Moscow called a strike by Ukrainian sea drones, killing two people in what Moscow cast as a terrorist attack on the road bridge, a major artery for Russian troops fighting in Ukraine.

The Kremlin said there was no link between the attack and its decision to suspend the grain deal, over what it called a failure to meet its demands to implement a parallel agreement easing rules for its own food and fertilizer exports.

“Unfortunately, the part of these Black Sea agreements concerning Russia has not been implemented so far, so its effect is terminated,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres signalled that Russia’s withdrawal meant that the related pact to facilitate Russia’s grain and fertilizer exports was also terminated.

“Today’s decision by the Russian Federation will strike a blow to people in need everywhere,” he told reporters. [Continue reading…]

Politico reports:

Western countries are hoping Beijing can help pressure Moscow into rejoining a key global food security deal after the Kremlin formally pulled out of the agreement Monday.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative, which suspended a Russian naval blockade that kept Ukrainian food supplies from reaching global markets, has served as a key lifeline to poor countries across Africa and the Middle East struggling with widespread drought and famine conditions.

But China has increasingly turned to Ukraine as a source of grain and other key food supplies in recent years and is the top destination for grain shipments facilitated by the fragile diplomatic agreement, which was first brokered by the U.N. and Turkey a year ago and extended several times. Now Western officials are looking to the Chinese government, one of Russia’s most influential allies, to prod them back to the negotiating table, something Moscow has not ruled out.

U.S. and Ukrainian officials fear Moscow wants to crush Ukraine’s agricultural-dependent economy and potentially trap the 2023 wheat harvest behind its blockade. But both Ukrainian and U.S. officials still privately expressed hopes that Russia could rejoin the agreement, after Moscow demanded more concessions to secure its own food and agricultural exports. U.S. officials have long dismissed Russian claims that U.S. sanctions are impeding their food exports, arguing Moscow’s war is the root of the problem. [Continue reading…]

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