Moscow has pledged to supply grain to low-income countries at its own expense, according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. The announcement comes as Russia plans to stop exporting Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea initiative, a deal that was mediated by the UN and Türkiye and first signed in July 2022.
Lavrov asserted that terminating the Black Sea initiative would not impact Russian grain shipments, as the country is expected to export around 50 million tons of grain this year. He argued that the initiative, particularly regarding Ukrainian grain, has lost its commercial motivation over time.
The purpose of the deal was initially to ensure that grain reaches low-income countries. However, statistics reveal that out of the 32.5 million tons of grain exported from Ukraine since the agreement was made, only a little over 2.5% actually reached these countries. The European Union was the largest recipient, accounting for 40% of the exported grain, followed by China (24%) and Türkiye (10%).
Lavrov emphasized that the part of the agreement concerning the unblocking of Russian grain and fertilizer exports by Western countries, which had been hindered by Ukraine-related sanctions, has been unsuccessful so far.
The foreign minister criticized the US and EU for their “outrageous” attitude towards Russia’s agricultural exports. He argued that the sanctions imposed on Russia’s shipping industry, major agricultural lender Rosselkhozbank, and the ban on brokerage and insurance services by Western firms, among other actions, have created significant obstacles to Russia’s agricultural shipments.
Despite the termination of the Black Sea initiative, Lavrov assured that Russian agricultural exports will continue. He pledged that if the initiative does end, Moscow will provide comparable or even greater amounts of grain to low-income countries free of charge.
This announcement brings both challenges and opportunities for low-income countries that heavily rely on grain imports to feed their populations. On one hand, the termination of the Black Sea initiative means they may have to find alternative sources of affordable grain. On the other hand, Russia’s promise to supply grain at no cost could alleviate some of the burden for these countries.
It remains to be seen how this decision will affect global grain markets and whether other countries or international organizations will step in to fill the void left by the termination of the Black Sea initiative. The move could potentially lead to shifts in trade patterns and prices for grain, impacting both importers and exporters around the world.
In conclusion, Moscow has announced its intention to stop exporting Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea initiative. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated that this decision will not affect Russian grain shipments, and the country remains committed to supplying grain to low-income countries. The termination of the initiative raises questions about the future of grain trade in the region and the potential consequences for both importers and exporters.