UN Chief Expresses Concern Over Termination of Black Sea Grain Agreement

Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, has expressed deep concern over Russia’s decision to terminate the Black Sea grain agreement. This agreement, aimed at alleviating a food shortage caused by a Russian blockade of Ukrainian ports, has significant implications for millions of hungry people and consumers worldwide.

The Black Sea grain agreement was instrumental in addressing the food crisis triggered by a Russian blockade that had frozen millions of tonnes of grain exports, particularly to developing nations. Under the agreement, grain prices experienced a promising drop of 35%, providing much-needed relief for struggling consumers.

However, the recent announcement of termination by Russia has swiftly reversed this progress. Grain prices on the market have already begun to surge, posing further challenges for vulnerable populations grappling with food insecurity.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had hoped for progress during UN talks to salvage the agreement, but the Secretary-General’s statement appears to signal its demise. A senior Russian official at the United Nations emphasized that the decision to terminate the agreement was final and that discussions between the Russian and Turkish foreign ministers had not prevented the outcome.

Secretary-General Guterres firmly rejects Russia’s justifications for ending the agreement, including claims of food market losses. In his efforts to support global food security, Guterres had successfully secured exemptions for Russia from food export sanctions and implemented arrangements to facilitate access to international markets for both Ukrainian and Russian food and fertilizers.

Despite Russia’s actions, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy remains determined to resume Black Sea grain shipments. He staunchly asserts that Russia should not have the authority to dictate who has access to sufficient food supplies.

Turkish President Erdoğan believes that Russian President Vladimir Putin will engage in discussions regarding the agreement’s continuation in August. However, if the agreement remains suspended for an extended period, the possibility of its revival diminishes significantly, potentially leading to even higher grain prices globally.

In a show of defiance against the Russian naval blockade, Ukraine has proposed the potential export of grain via ships, a move that may heighten tensions in the region further.