The United States and the EU have criticized Russia’s decision to withdraw a wartime pact that blocked the flow of millions of tons of grain through southern Ukraine, and traders and food security experts say Russia move will fuel a new spike in prices and raise hunger levels. in poor countries.

Washington said Moscow’s suspension on Saturday from joining the UN-backed deal with Kyiv was an “outrageous” move that risks fueling hunger. Earlier in the day, Moscow linked its decision to attacks on ships in the port of Sevastopol, Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014. Ukraine called this a “false pretext”.

“The United States regrets the suspension of Russia’s participation in the United Nations-brokered Black Sea Grains Initiative. Secretary of State Anthony Brinken said in a statement.

He said the deal would allow exports of 9 million tons of food, helping to bring down global prices that skyrocketed after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.

EU Foreign Affairs Director Josep Borrell warned Russia to “endanger key export routes for much-needed cereals and fertilizers to deal with the global food crisis caused by the war with Ukraine.” It is exposed,” he said, calling for the withdrawal of the decision to scrap the agreement.

The chief economist of the United Nations World Food Program, Arif Hussein, warned that the decision would hurt many countries. “This is bad in good times, but in the current state of the world, it’s something that needs to be resolved as soon as possible. It’s not about one country, it’s about dozens of countries,” he said.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitro Kuleba said: “By suspending its participation in the grain trade on the false pretext that an explosion occurred 220 km away from the grain corridor, Russia has reduced 200 to 176 ships already at sea. It is enough to lock down 10,000 tons of grain and feed more than 7 million people.”

The Kremlin’s announcement surprised grain traders and analysts who had been wondering if the deal would be extended beyond the mid-November deadline, but who had not anticipated the abrupt end.

Andrei Sizov, managing director of Black Sea grain consultancy SovEcon, said “price will rise significantly” when the market opens, adding that Russia’s move is a “worst case scenario”.

Moscow defended its action on Sunday, with Russia’s ambassador to Washington arguing that the “really outrageous” move was Washington’s failure to criticize the attack on Sevastopol.

The attack, which appears to have targeted a Russian warship, came eight months after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

The Black Sea Agreement, which broke off this summer in Istanbul, saw Moscow guarantee safe passage for cargo ships carrying grain coming from ports in southern Ukraine.

Specialty store Fastmarkets Agricensus on Sunday reported a “panic” at these ports, with international ships already docking and cargoes not being trapped as Moscow suspended safe transit corridors. I was afraid.

The Ukrainian president called for a “strong international response” by the UN and the G20.

“Russia will do everything possible to ensure that millions of Africans and millions of residents of the Middle East and South Asia end up in conditions of man-made famine or at least severe price crises. ‘, Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly video address.

Russia denies that attacks on Ukraine, a major global exporter of grain and other food items, have caused prices to rise and food shortages to worsen. It said it was ready to supply half a million tons of grain directly to poor countries, the Tass news agency reported, citing the agriculture ministry.

This is seen by some as Moscow’s attempt to maintain strained relations with countries in the global South whose food supplies have been severely affected by Russia’s decision to invade Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has voiced his dissatisfaction with the deal in recent weeks, arguing that it does not benefit the “poorest countries.”

However, the United Nations argues that the agreement was not intended to send grain directly to poor countries, but to make grain more accessible to all by lowering market prices.

Putin’s mounting disapproval has also coincided with a series of military defeats against his army, leading to a moratorium on trading as the counteroffensive in the South Kherson region picks up pace.

“Why is Moscow sabotaging the grain trade now? The threat of food crises must return to Russia’s toolbox of coercion and intimidation.” International Peace Fund.

But he also warned that the strategy could backfire: “Abandoning the grain deal would create a rift between Russia and powerful players like Turkey and Saudi Arabia.”

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