Russia says it will rejoin Ukraine grain shipment deal
Russia said on Wednesday that it would resume participation in an agreement allowing grain exports to leave Ukrainian ports, days after suspending its involvement over an alleged attack on its Black Sea fleet.
- In the wake of Russia's decision over the weekend to suspend its participation, Secretary of State Antony Blinken accused the Kremlin of "weaponizing food" and "exacerbating already dire humanitarian crises and food insecurity."
State of play: Russia's Defense Ministry wrote in a Telegram post Wednesday that it had received written guarantees from Ukraine vowing not to use the Black Sea corridor and Ukrainian ports for the use of military operations against Russia.
- "The Russian Federation considers that the guarantees received at the moment appear to be sufficient and resumes the implementation of the agreement," the statement added.
- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Wednesday that Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu had told his Turkish counterpart that grain transports would resume operations as of midday Wednesday, Reuters reported.
- Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov tweeted that on Thursday, "8 vessels with agricultural products are expected to pass through the grain corridor. We got confirmation from UN."
The big picture: Russia suspended its participation in the deal after accusing, without providing evidence, British navy personnel of directing Ukrainian drone attacks on ships in Crimea.
- The U.K. denied the allegations, saying the false claims are intended to distract from Russian military failures in Ukraine.
- Ukraine did not address the drone allegations directly, though Zelensky called Russia's withdrawal from the agreement "predictable," adding that Russia had been "deliberately aggravating the food crisis" since September.
What they're saying: "The grain corridor needs reliable and long-term protection," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly address Tuesday evening.
- "Russia should clearly know that it will receive a tough response from the world to any steps that disrupt our food exports. This is literally a matter of life for tens of millions of people," he added.