Russia announced on Monday that it has halted an unprecedented wartime deal that allows the grain to be shipped from Ukraine to countries in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. The deal, which aimed to address the growing threat of hunger and rising food prices pushing people into poverty, has been temporarily suspended by Russia.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov revealed the suspension during a conference call with reporters. Stating that Russia will resume the agreement once its demands are met. Peskov further added, “When the part of the Black Sea deal related to Russia is implemented. Russia will immediately return to the implementation of the deal.”
The accord, brokered by the UN and Turkey last summer, was a breakthrough agreement that enabled the movement of food from the Black Sea region after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The agreement also facilitated the transport of Russian food and fertilizer despite Western sanctions.
Both Russia and Ukraine are major global suppliers of wheat, barley, sunflower oil, and other essential food products for developing nations. However, Russia has complained about shipping and insurance restrictions that have hindered its food and fertilizer exports. They are crucial for the global food supply chain.
Intensified economic challenges and poverty
Although Russia has been shipping record amounts of wheat and fertilizer. The recent suspension of the agreement has resulted in a decline in the amount of food shipped and the number of vessels departing Ukraine. Russia has been accused of limiting additional ships that can participate in the agreement.
The war in Ukraine caused a surge in food commodity prices last year. Contributing to a global food crisis exacerbated by conflicts. The ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, droughts, and other climate factors. The high costs of grain, particularly for staple foods in countries like Egypt, Lebanon, and Nigeria, have intensified economic challenges. And pushed millions more people into poverty or food insecurity.
Developing countries, where individuals allocate a larger portion of their income to meals. They have been hit hardest by these price increases. Weakening currencies and the need to import more due to climate issues. Also compelled poorer nations reliant on imported food priced in dollars to spend more. Drought-stricken countries such as Somalia, Kenya, Morocco, and Tunisia are struggling to cope with these challenges.
The suspension of the wartime grain deal between Russia and Ukraine poses a threat to global food security. Moreover, amplifies the existing food crisis faced by many vulnerable nations. The international community will closely monitor developments in hopes of finding a resolution that ensures the continued flow of essential food supplies to those in need.