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Russia rejoins Ukraine grain export deal, reserves right to withdraw again

Commercial vessels, including vessels that are part of a Black Sea grain deal, are seen anchored off the Istanbul coastline on November 02, 2022.

Russia has announced that it will rejoin the UN-administered grain export corridor from Ukraine via the Black Sea, reserving its right, however, to withdraw from the international agreement.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Russian Defense Ministry said that with the help of the United Nations and Turkey, it had obtained sufficient written guarantees from Ukraine that it would not use the Black Sea grain corridor for military operations against Russia.

“The Russian Federation considers that the guarantees received at the moment seem sufficient and resumes the implementation of the agreement,” the ministry said in a statement posted on its official Telegram channel.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday reserved Russia’s right to withdraw from the agreement if the “guarantees are breached form Ukraine,” and said in case Russia pulled out of the agreement, it would substitute the entire volume of grain for the “poorest countries” for free.

“In any case, we will not prevent grain shipments from Ukraine to Turkey in the future, bearing in mind both Turkey’s neutrality in the conflict as a whole and the capabilities of Turkey’s  grain-processing industry and President Erdogan’s effort to serve the interests of the poorest countries,” he added.

Ukrainian President Voladmyr Zelensky, via Twitter, thanked Erdogan “for his active participation in preserving the grain deal, for his steadfast support of sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.”

I thanked 🇹🇷 President @RTErdogan for his active participation in preserving the grain deal, for his steadfast support of sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. We discussed further steps to return 🇺🇦 POWs and political prisoners. I also count on support of 🇹🇷.

— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) November 2, 2022

Back in July, Moscow and Kiev reached an agreement, mediated by the UN and Turkey, to resume grain exports from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, which had been halted due to the Russian invasion and blockade of Ukraine.

The agreement put in place a procedure that guaranteed the safety of ships carrying Ukrainian grain, fertilizer and other food stuff through a humanitarian corridor in the Black Sea. Under the deal, all vessels coming to and from Ukraine’s ports were inspected and monitored by international teams made up of officials from Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, and the UN.

Moscow halted participation in the deal after a drone attack on Saturday against its Black Sea Fleet in the Crimean port of Sevastopol. It accused Ukraine of carrying out the attack with support from Britain.

According to the UN, Ukraine normally supplies the world with around 45 million tons of grain every year. It ranks among the top five global exporters of barley, corn, and wheat. It is also by far the biggest exporter of sunflower oil, accounting for 46% of the world’s exports.

Prices of wheat and corn on global commodities markets fell after Russia’s decision to return to the pact.

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