Moscow Rips Up Grain Deal After Terrorist Attack on Black Sea Fleet

Gleb Mishutin & Alexander Sokolov

Russia has suspended its participation in the grain deal since 29 October due to attacks on Black Sea Fleet ships and civilian vessels in Sevastopol Bay.

💬 "In view of the terrorist attack carried out by the Kiev regime on 29 October this year with the participation of UK experts against the ships of the Black Sea Fleet and civilian vessels involved in securing the 'grain corridor', the Russian side is suspending its participation in the implementation of agreements on the export of agricultural products from Ukrainian ports," the Defence Ministry said in a statement.

On 30 October, a representative of the Defence Ministry reported the results of the examination of the wreckage of the naval drones. According to Governor Mykhaylo Razvozzhayev, the attack using unmanned aerial vehicles and semi-submersibles was the largest since the start of the special military operation in Ukraine. According to the Defence Ministry, one ship and a barrage in Yuzhnaya Bay sustained minor damage.

The drones were equipped with Canadian-made navigation modules. Based on the information extracted from them, it became known that the drones had been launched from the Odessa area, and the drones had made part of their way to Sevastopol in the "grain corridor" security zone. This could mean, the agency concluded, that the pre-launch was carried out from a civilian vessel chartered by Ukraine or Western countries to export agricultural products.

What and where it was exported as part of the grain deal — From August 1 to October 29, 455 dry cargo vessels carrying grain and its products with a total weight of 9.34m tonnes left Ukrainian ports as part of the Istanbul agreements to unblock them. Of these, 350 ships with 6.1m tonnes (66%) of the products went to Western and NATO countries, Vedomosti has calculated based on UN data. Spain (19%), Turkey (14%) and Italy (9%) are leading among them. 65% of exported products are fodder, i.e., livestock feed. It is mainly corn, rape, barley, soybeans and sunflower meal. Wheat accounts for 29% and oil for another 6%.

Russia's withdrawal from the deal "indefinitely" was also announced by the Foreign Ministry. According to a statement issued by the ministry on 29 October, after the attack by the Ukrainian armed forces, the Russian side cannot guarantee the safety of civilian dry cargo ships that take part in the export of Ukrainian agricultural products. In the opinion of the representative of the Foreign Ministry, the attack on the ships ensuring the functioning of the humanitarian corridor cannot be viewed as anything other than an act of terrorism. In addition to the Ukrainian army, British specialists were also involved in the attack, the Foreign Ministry stressed.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said on 30 October that the USA "regrets Russia's suspension of participation in the UN-brokered grain initiative operations in the Black Sea". Josep Borrell, the European Union (EU) High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, expressed a similar view: "Russia's decision to suspend participation in the Black Sea deal endangers the main export route for grain and fertilizers, much needed to solve the global food crisis [...] The EU calls on Russia to reverse its decision.

Turkey has not yet commented on Russia's withdrawal from the deal, but a source in Istanbul told RIA Novosti that Turkish authorities were holding telephone talks with Moscow "at all levels". For his part, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on 29 October that talks between Putin and Erdogan on the deal were not yet planned.

Most of the products exported as part of the grain deal did not go to starving countries in Africa and the Middle East, which foreign politicians have accused Russia of provoking hunger for months and which the grain deal was initially intended to help. Hungry countries, where more than 10% of the population suffer from malnutrition according to the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization, received 1.18m tonnes (13%) of the cereals exported. These are, above all, Bangladesh, which accounts for 2.9% of grain exports, India (2.2%) and Libya (1.6%). The poorest countries of Africa received only 11 ships with 0.36 million tons of grain (4%).

According to the Russian authorities, the terms of the grain deal were not fully complied with. According to the agreements, in addition to exporting Ukrainian grain, Russian fertilizers and grain should have been provided access to world markets. On 28 October, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova stressed that Moscow regularly informed the UN about the non-compliance with the second part of the deal, which concerns Russian grain and fertilizers. Earlier, Russia's permanent representative to the UN, Vasily Nebenzya, said that between 22 July and 6 September, Russia failed to remove a single ship carrying grain or fertilizers.

On 29 October, Russian Agriculture Minister Dmitriy Patrushev said that Russia plans to supply needy countries with 500,000 tonnes of grain free of charge within four months, and to fully replace Ukrainian grain in commercial deliveries.

Russian suppliers are ready to carry out their humanitarian mission and supply grain to countries in need, said Eduard Zernin, chairman of the board of the Union of Grain Exporters. According to him, grain exporters, both Russian and international, are gradually adapting to activities in the conditions of hidden sanctions. The level of responsibility which falls on Russian producers is increasing due to the termination of the grain deal, Zernin stresses. "Preliminary results of October give confidence that Russia will realize its export potential this season, Russian grain will reach the countries in need in the volumes they require," summarizes the expert.

The grain deal was commercially beneficial to Turkey and Ukraine rather than Russia, Andrey Kortunov, director general of the Russian International Affairs Council, said. The main buyers of Ukrainian agricultural products, who received 9m tonnes of grain as a result of the deal, also benefited from it. Its benefit for Russia can be assessed as debatable, and fulfilment of Russian conditions on grain and fertiliser exports has been a problematic point of the agreements from the very beginning, Kortunov adds.

Russia announced the suspension of the grain deal but did not impose a blockade of Ukrainian ports, nor was such a blockade announced before the deal was concluded in July, a source close to the Defence Ministry points out. But the atmosphere of uncertainty was enough for carriers to stop using these ports, he says.

According to Maxim Klimov, a 3rd ranking reserve captain and a naval expert, provocative actions of the Ukrainian side cannot be ruled out now in order to put a civilian ship under attack and blame it on Russia. In Klimov's opinion, a real blockade of ports can be ensured by the actions of ships, boats and aviation. This would require stepping up the actions of the Black Sea Fleet and transferring ships from the Baltic and Caspian Sea before the rivers freeze over, as well as allocating additional naval aviation forces.

(Translated with, free version)

Source: IMG: AWIP:


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