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Black Sea Grain Deal Terminated

July 17, 2023, 2022 (EIRNS)—The Black Sea Grain Initiative, originally negotiated to facilitate the safe export of both Ukrainian and Russian grain and fertilizer, expired today without renewal. “The Black Sea agreements are no longer in effect. The deadline, as the Russian President said earlier, is July 17. Unfortunately, the part of the Black Sea agreement that concerns Russia has not yet been fulfilled. As a result, it has been terminated,” Russian Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters at the Kremlin today. “As soon as the Russian part [of the deal] is fulfilled, the Russian side will immediately return to the implementation of this deal.”

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova reported that Moscow has officially notified Turkiye, Ukraine, and the UN Secretariat, the other parties to the deal, of its objection to extending it. Russian officials, from President Vladimir Putin on down, have repeatedly pointed over the last few weeks, that the other parties to the deal never fulfilled its provisions for the export of Russian grain and fertilizers.

In a review of the grain deal since it went into effect a year ago, TASS noted that Ukraine exported more than 32.8 million tons of grain, one-third of which, 10.93 million tons, have been sent to Asia, and 12.37 million tons have gone to Western Europe. The largest importers during this period were China, Spain, Turkiye, as well as Italy and the Netherlands.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is still hopeful the deal can be salvaged however. “Despite the statement today, I believe that Russian President Putin wants this humanitarian bridge to continue,” he told reporters before departing on an official visit to Saudi Arabia, reported Turkiye’s official Anadolu Agency. Erdogan said Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov will discuss the deal over the phone, expressing hope that it will continue “without interruption.” He added: “Besides, we may take steps via a phone call with Putin without waiting for August.”

Erdogan still expects Putin to visit Turkiye in August to discuss bilateral and regional issues. “We will also consult (with each other) on how we can act to pave the way for the shipment of Russian grain and fertilizer,” he said.

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