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Kremlin warns of risks in resuming grain deal without Russia

Following Russia's much-criticized decision not to renew an international deal enabling the export of grain from Ukraine, the Kremlin has warned the other participating states against trying to implement the agreement on their own.

Agencies and A News WORLD
Published July 18,2023
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov (EPA Photo)

Kremlin warned on Tuesday about the risks that could arise if the Black Sea grain deal is resumed without Russia.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative's routes are very close to the war zone, which must be taken into consideration in the event of a new agreement, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov noted at a press conference in Moscow.

"This is a question that needs a response from our military because we are talking about a zone that is directly close to the area of combat activities, where without appropriate guarantees, certain risks arise. Therefore, if something is to be drafted without Russia, then these risks should be taken into account," he stressed.

The Kremline spokesman noted that he does not know which countries are ready to deal with such risks.

"Even if we take this grain transaction zone, it is no secret to anyone. It is an obvious fact that this zone is used by the Kyiv regime for military purposes. This is a very important aspect that should not be overlooked," he emphasized.

A year ago, Türkiye, the UN, Russia, and Ukraine signed an agreement in Istanbul to resume grain exports from three Ukrainian Black Sea ports, the deal had been renewed several times since then, and it was extended for another two months on May 18.

Under the grain deal, a Joint Coordination Center was set up in Istanbul last year with officials from Russia, Türkiye, Ukraine and the UN to oversee the shipments. However, Russia on Monday suspended the deal.

In October last year, Moscow suspended the grain deal for several days due to Ukraine's attacks on the vessels of its Black Sea Fleet, which were carried out using the humanitarian corridor, according to the Russian Defense Ministry.

When asked if Russian President Vladimir Putin intends to contact his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan about resuming the deal, Peskov said nothing has been scheduled as of yet.

The spokesman also reaffirmed Russia's readiness to compensate the shipments of Ukrainian grain to needy countries free of charge.

"Unfortunately, we are talking about rather small amounts, because the poorest countries in Africa received the least from the grain deal," he said.

On July 27-28, the city of St. Petersburg will host the 2nd Russia-Africa Summit, with the issue of food security on the agenda, the spokesman said.

He praised UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres' efforts, saying Moscow "highly evaluates" his role in the grain export agreements.

"We highly appreciate Mr. Guterres's efforts in trying to convince European countries to fulfill the commitments they have made," he said.

The official also rejected U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken's charge that Russia's decision to suspend the deal was "unconscionable."

"Russia fulfilled its obligations and extended this deal several times, despite the fact that the terms of this deal with Russia were not implemented. And in this case, we have to call 'unconscionable' the position of the European states," he said.


Concerning Monday's attack on the Kerch Bridge, which connects Russia to the Crimean Peninsula that has been under Moscow's control since 2014, Peskov said Russian authorities "knew from the very beginning that Ukraine was behind the attack."

"It was clear to Moscow from the very beginning, there is no doubt that this is a terrorist action organized by the Kyiv regime," he claimed.

Proposals to improve the bridge's security and retaliatory measures in the aftermath of the naval drone attack on this object are still being prepared, he said.

Asked if the grain deal sea corridor could be used for the attack, Peskov said, "I'm not going to say anything specific about this. But, you know that our military has repeatedly said that Ukraine uses grain corridors for combat purposes."

To Russian legislators' initiative to declare Ukraine a "terrorist state," he said he cannot provide a legal assessment because the idea was voiced by the deputies and has not yet been considered.

At the same time, a Kremlin representative said, "one can only agree" that Russian society considers Ukrainian authorities as a "terrorist regime."