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Guterres: Russia's pull-out of grain deal 'will strike a blow to people in need everywhere'

by Elsa Court July 17, 2023 7:59 PM 2 min read
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at the signing ceremony of the Black Sea Grain Deal in Istanbul, Turkey, in July 2022. (Ed Jones/AFP via Getty Images)
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U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres made a statement in reaction to Russia's withdrawal from the Black Sea Grain initiative. "Today’s decision by the Russian Federation will strike a blow to people in need everywhere," he wrote, expressing his regret at Russia's decision.

The deal, which was first brokered by the U.N. and Turkey and signed in Istanbul in July 2022, has ensured the safe passage of over 32 million metric tons of food commodities from Ukrainian ports on the Black Sea, according to U.N. figures.

The initiative also allowed the World Food Programme to ship over 725,000 tons of food to support humanitarian operations in regions like the Horn of Africa, and helped to reduce food prices by over 23 percent since March 2022.

Before the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the country usually supplied the world with 45 million tons of grain every year. Guterres added that the agreement has "been a lifeline for global food security and a beacon of hope in a troubled world."

"Ultimately, participation in these agreements is a choice. But struggling people everywhere and developing countries don’t have a choice," he wrote, adding that the hundreds of millions of people facing hunger "will pay the price."

The last extension of the grain deal was in May 2023 and was set to expire at the end of the day on July 17, 2023.

Russia informed Turkey, Ukraine and the United Nations that they will not sign an extension. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov claimed the reason was that "the part of the Black Sea agreements concerning Russia has not been implemented so far."

Black Sea grain deal collapses as Russia pulls from agreement
Russia announced on July 17 that it is pulling out of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, critical for ensuring global food security, effectively collapsing the deal.

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