Russia has pulled out of a Turkey and UN-brokered deal that allowed grain exports to leave Ukraine’s Black Sea ports in response to a drone attack against the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Crimea.
In an attempt to revive the deal, the Turkish Defense Ministry said that the Turkish defense minister, Hulusi Akar, is speaking with his Russian and Ukrainian counterparts.
Since the deal was signed in July, grain shipments have been overseen by a coordination center in Istanbul, which is stationed by personnel from Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, and the UN. The agreement had been a success before its suspension, with over 9 million tonnes of grain and other foodstuffs shipped out of Ukraine since its signing.
Turkey said the Russian personnel will remain at the center but said no grain will be moving out of Ukraine’s ports. “The Russian personnel of the Joint Coordination Center is currently staying at the Center. During this period, no ships with food will so far leave Ukrainian ports,” the Turkish Defense Ministry said, according to TASS.
The Russian Defense Ministry claims the drones that targeted Russian ships in Sevastopol moved through safe corridors established by the grain deal before attacking the fleet. Moscow accused British “specialists” of helping Ukraine carry out the attack, a charge London has denied.
The US slammed Russia for suspending the grain deal and warned it could exacerbate global food shortages. President Biden called the move “purely outrageous” and said there was “no reason for them to do that.”
In response to the criticism, Russia said the US doesn’t understand the situation. “The situation has escalated even more. But the United States does not intend to notice this. Again, everything has been reduced to false accusations of our country in the aggravation of the world food problem,” said Russian Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov.
The grain deal had already been in jeopardy before the drone attack. Another aspect of the deal was for the West to ease sanctions on Russia to facilitate the export of Russian agricultural goods, but Moscow says that hasn’t happened. US sanctions technically have exemptions for fertilizer and grain, but the sanctions still discourage international companies and banks from doing business with Russia altogether.