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Russia refused to renew the Grain Initiative, which is essential for global food security

On Monday, July 17, the Russian Federation suspended its participation in the Black Sea Grain Initiative. The deal was created in July 2022 to unblock some of the Ukrainian seaports and allow the export of Ukrainian crops to Asia, Africa, and Europe. And now, Russia’s attempt to weaponize food again will affect tens of millions of people who might face the threat of food shortages and rising prices worldwide.

Cargo ship Despina V, carrying Ukrainian grain, is seen in the Black Sea off Kilyos near Istanbul, Turkey. November 2, 2022.
Photo: Umit Bektas / Reuters

“Russia has killed the Grain Deal. The immediate outcome will be that prices will go up again. Hurting those most vulnerable, primarily in Asia and Africa. Russia must stop playing hunger games,” stated Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba at a meeting of the UN Security Council in New York.

Kuleba also reminded that for a long time, Russia had been systematically obstructing the normal functioning of the Grain Initiative by deliberately reducing the number of inspections in the Joint Coordination Centre in Istanbul and limiting the capacity to 1-2 vessels per day. Now the Russian Federation has completely suspended the initiative.

I call on all UN Member States to firmly demand that Russia resume its participation in the deal and stop its hunger games. Russia must keep politics out of global food security,” added Ukraine’s Foreign Minister.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, on a visit to Ukraine, watches as the M/V Kubrosli Y cargo ship in Odesa harbor
is loaded with wheat. August 18, 2022.
Photo: Mark Garten / UN Photo

At the same time, Ukraine keeps looking for solutions and working with responsible states to restore food security, ensured Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the President of Ukraine. “I have sent official letters to President of Türkiye Erdoğan and UN Secretary General Guterres with a proposal to continue the Black Sea Grain Initiative or its analog in a trilateral format – as it is best. Ukraine, the UN, and Türkiye can jointly ensure the operation of the food corridor and the inspection of vessels,” stated Zelenskyy.

He also emphasized that it is important to prevent the destabilization of the global food market, caused by Russia’s actions. “Africa has the right to stability. Asia has the right to stability. Europe has every right to stability. And therefore, we must all care about security – about protection from Russian madness. Ukrainian food is basic security for four hundred million people…” said the President of Ukraine.

According to Zelenskyy, almost 33 million tons of Ukrainian agricultural products were exported after the Black Sea Grain Initiative was set up in July 2022. Ukrainian grains were shipped to 45 countries worldwide, including Ethiopia, Yemen, Somalia, and many others.