Black Sea Grain Initiative ends as Russia withdraws

Russia formally notified Ukraine it was suspending its participation in the Black Sea grain deal.

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One year after the Black Sea Grain Initiative was created, Russia has suspended its role in the pact, allowing the deal to expire July 17.

Russia's Foreign Ministry said it had notified Ukraine,  Türkiye and the United Nations (UN) that "without Russia's participation, the Black Sea Initiative ceases to function beginning July 18," reported Reuters.

The arrangement, which has allowed Ukraine to export 33 million metric tons of corn, wheat and other grains despite Russian's invasion, was brokered by  Türkiye and the UN in July 2022.

The end of the deal means withdrawal of safety guarantees for shipping, the ending of a maritime humanitarian corridor, and the disbanding of the Joint Coordination Center in Istanbul, which was established to monitor the implementation of the deal.

According to Reuters, the last ship left Ukraine under the deal on Sunday, July 16. 

Russia's objections

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told Reuters the Black Sea deal agreements concerning Russia had not been implemented, so the deal was terminated.

There was very little optimism the deal would be renewed again. The last 60-day extension happened in May. Russia had threatened to quit the deal several times, saying demands to dispatch its own grain and fertilizer have not been met.

Russia's demands included reopening a pipeline carrying ammonia from Russia to the Ukrainian Black Sea port of Pivdennyi and the reconnection of its agricultural bank Rosselkhozbank to the SWIFT international payment network. 

According to Reuters, Russia also has complained that not enough grain has reached poor countries. The UN argued the arrangement benefited those states by helping lower food prices more than 20% globally.

Russia could come back

Peskov signaled Russia was not necessarily quitting the deal forever.

"As soon as the Russian part of the agreement is fulfilled, the Russian side will return to the implementation of this deal immediately," Peskov told Reuters.

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