Sep 5, 2023
Russia will not follow a deal that would allow Ukraine to export grain through Black Sea ports. It will not do so unless Western nations remove sanctions and other restrictions on Russian food exports.
Russian President Vladimir Putin made that announcement Monday. It came shortly after his army again bombed one of Ukraine’s major sea ports. Putin had just wrapped up talks with Turkey’s president, Tayyip Erdoğan. He had negotiated the grain deal with Putin on behalf of European and other Western countries.
Both Russia and Ukraine are major food suppliers for the rest of the world. Both countries export lots of wheat, barley, and sunflower oil to the world. Some African nations rely on food supplies from Russia and Ukraine. Now they are struggling with high levels of food insecurity. The United Nations has warned of widespread famine.
Record shipments of wheat and fertilizer have left Russian ports since Russia launched its war on Ukraine in February 2022. That’s despite Russia's claim that Western nations did not follow the grain deal. Russia says its exports have been blocked.
The grain deal was negotiated earlier this year. This is the second time Putin has refused to follow the deal. In July, Putin said restrictions on shipping and insurance had hurt its export business. The West has called that claim untrue.
Western leaders spoke out against Putin for starving people who need food supplies. Germany's foreign minister said Putin’s “game with the grain agreement is cynical.”
“It’s only because of Putin that the freighters don’t have free passage again,” she said.
Photo from Reuters.
Reflect: Do you think it is important for countries to work together to ensure the smooth flow of goods, especially food, across borders during times of global need or crisis? Explain.
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