scroll to top arrow or icon

{{ subpage.title }}

Ukrainian farmer visits his crop storage that was destroyed by Russian military strike near a frontline outside Orikhiv.


No grain from Ukraine

Poland, Slovakia and Hungary have once again announced their own unilateral restrictions on Ukrainian grain imports, after the European Commission chose not to extend a broader import ban to five countries that border Ukraine. The ban had been imposed in May due to “distortions in supply” and complaints that Ukraine was not exercising effective export controls.

Read moreShow less

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in Sochi, Russia, on Sept. 4, 2023.

Sputnik/Sergei Guneev/Pool via REUTERS

No pain, no grain

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s weekend meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has failed to revive the Black Sea grain deal. The UN-brokered agreement, which guaranteed safe passage for Ukrainian grain shipments to markets in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, had been on hold since July. Russia refused to extend the deal, citing a failure to honor a parallel agreement to remove obstacles to its food and fertilizer exports.

On Monday, Putin reiterated this demand. "We will be ready to consider the possibility of reviving the grain deal … we will do this as soon as all the agreements on lifting restrictions on the export of Russian agricultural products are fully implemented.” Moscow is also demanding that the Russian Agricultural Bank be reconnected to the SWIFT international payments system, from which it was cut off as part of EU sanctions for its invasion. The UN had offered to reinstate this relationship in July to keep the grain deal alive.

Erdogan offered his own prescription for reviving the deal: “Ukraine needs to especially soften its approaches in order for it to be possible for joint steps to be taken with Russia" and export more grain to Africa rather than Europe. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba “took note” of Erdogan’s position, but added, "We should not continue to be hostages to Russian blackmail, where Russia creates problems and then invites everyone to solve them.”

To deflect criticism that Russia is starving developing nations of much-needed food, Russia is set to supply up to one million tons of grain to Turkey at reduced prices for processing at Turkish plants and shipping to countries “most in need.” Putin is also brokering a deal to send free grain to six African countries: Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Mali, Somalia, Eritrea, and Central African Republic.

But Russia’s moves aren’t all bread and roses: They will also conveniently purchase political capital for Russia’s war in Ukraine and expand its influence over the African continent, an arena where Russia has been increasingly active in recent years.

Where is China's foreign minister?
- YouTube

Where is China's foreign minister?

What are the consequences from Russia's exit from the Black Sea grain deal? Where is Chinese foreign minister Qin Gang? "Oppenheimer" is out. Will you be watching? Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week on World In :60.

What are the consequences from Russia's exit from the Black Sea grain deal?

Well, a lot of antagonism from the Global South because prices are now going up. That's why the Russians hadn't wanted to leave. Look, I mean, there is an ammonia pipeline that was sabotaged that the Russians wanted to use traversing Ukraine, that hasn't gotten fixed. They also wanna be able to get back into SWIFT for the agricultural banks, and neither of those things happen. So they have pulled out of the deal. They are also now attacking Odessa, stepped up way, including grain capacity and blowing up a whole bunch of food. And this is, these are all war crimes. And now you've got a whole bunch of sub-Saharan countries in particular that are gonna be angry with Russia as a consequence, one of the places they've done comparatively well since the beginning of the war.

Read moreShow less

Odessa grain terminal on fire from Russian airstrike

Grain warfare: Russia escalates the conflict

In the wake of Russia withdrawing from the Black Sea grain deal on Monday, the Kremlin announced on Wednesday that it will consider all ships traveling to Ukrainian ports as hostile vessels, escalating tensions at sea and further impeding Ukraine’s ability to export grain.

Read moreShow less

A Turkish cargo shop loaded with Ukrainian agricultural products leaves the Port of Odessa.

Zozulia Yulii/Ukrinform/ABACA via Reuters Connect

The limits of Russia’s grain weapon

Russia’s suspension of the UN-backed Black Sea Grain Initiative creates uncertainty for Ukraine’s economy and for global food prices, though there are several reasons why the effect of this break will likely be more limited than worst-case scenarios suggest.

Read moreShow less

Subscribe to our free newsletter, GZERO Daily