Russia resumes involvement in Black Sea Grain Deal with Ukraine days after suspending participation  

Wheat grains, corn and sunflower seeds on the yellow and blue flag of Ukraine with stop sign, Ukrainian grain crisis, global hunger crisis concept due to war (Shutterstock).

By Harper Meacham  

On Nov. 2, Russia agreed to resume its participation in the Black Sea grain deal days after it suspended involvement in response to Ukraine’s alleged drone attack on Russia’s naval fleet in Crimea. Russia’s decision to rejoin the agreement came after receiving assurances that Ukraine would not make military use of the safe zone and attack Russia. 

Initially, Russia’s decision to suspend their involvement came from their Defense Foreign Ministry’s fear for citizen safety. After the unexpected attack on their vessel, Russia declared that “the Russian side cannot guarantee the safety of civilian dry cargo ships participating in the ‘Black Sea Initiative’ and suspends its implementation from today for an indefinite period.” In doing so, complications emerged. After entering back in, Putin made it clear that Russia reserves the right to withdraw from the deal again if Kyiv breaks its word. 

As a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine earlier this year, Russia had been accused of “weaponizing food” by starving many vulnerable parts of the world. Their blockade on exports from Ukraine led to backlash from the U.S. and other allies of Ukraine. The United Nations brokered the Black Sea Grain Deal to resume all shipments of grain and other commodities out of Ukraine –– up to 9 million tons and 397 ships.  

The deal ultimately contributed to lower prices of wheat and other goods. Since then, Russia has announced that the allowed exports of grain were directed to Europe rather than the world’s hungriest nations. Tension continues to stretch between Russia and Ukraine as the war persists. 

As Ukraine is one of the world’s largest suppliers of wheat and corn, their contribution, now obstructed, is going to be a “big hole” to fill. Exporting up to 9.6 and 11.8 metric tons of corn and wheat in 2021 –– Ukraine accounts for 10% of all wheat exports worldwide. The war between Russian and Ukraine had a detrimental effect on the world as wheat exports decreased by a whopping 76% and corn by 34% before the deal.  
What else does Russia’s decision to suspend their involvement mean? For starters, these developing nations will have to search for new grain suppliers and inevitably pay much more for the same good. Underdeveloped countries like Bangladesh, Ethiopia, and Yemen will still suffer from an 863.1 million metric ton gap, even with the Grain Deal in effect.  

Ukraine has yet to take responsibility for the recent attack but since then, both parties have reached an agreement and business will proceed as usual. Russia is very unpredictable and Ukraine, along with the US and Britain, will continue to monitor the nation closely during these unprecedented times.  

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