The Kremlin on Wednesday said the outlook for the landmark UN-brokered Black Sea grain deal was not great as promises to remove obstacles to Russian exports of agricultural and fertilizer exports had not been fulfilled.
The grain deal is an attempt to ease a food crisis that predated the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but has been made worse by the deadliest war in Europe since World War Two.
The agreement, due to expire next month in its current form, was first signed by Russia, Ukraine, Türkiye and the United Nations in July last year and twice extended. On paper, it allows for the export of food and fertilizer, including ammonia, from three Ukrainian Black Sea ports.
While the West has not placed sanctions on Russia’s food and fertilizer exports, Moscow says they are compromised by obstacles – such as insurance and payment hindrances – that it says must be removed for the deal to work properly.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday that the current agreement was not working for Russia, despite some efforts by the United Nations to get the parts of the deal relating to Moscow’s interests implemented.
“No deal can stand on one leg: it must stand on two legs,” Peskov told reporters. “In this regard, of course, judging by the state of play today, the outlook (for its extension) is not so great.”
Russia and Ukraine are two of the most important producers of agricultural commodities in the world, and major players in the wheat, barley, maize, rapeseed, rapeseed oil, sunflower seed and sunflower oil markets. Russia is also dominant on the fertilizer market.
More than 27 million tons of grain and other foodstuffs have been exported from Ukraine aboard 881 outbound vessels since the Black Sea Grain Initiative began in August, official data shows.