By Enyichukwu Enemanna
Russia has accused the West of shipping Ukraine grain, fertiliser and other foodstuffs to European Union and Turkey, neglecting developing countries in need of humanitarian interventions, saying it is a deception and called for the review of the deal.
President Vladimir Putin who spoke on Wednesday, said he wants a reopening of the deal brokered in July by UN and Turkey which is the only diplomatic breakthrough reached between Ukraine and Russia since the war broke out February 14, 2022.
Putin said this action is at the expense of poor countries, and should be renegotiated to ensure its success.
The agreement was designed to help ease global food prices by increasing supplies of grain and oilseeds from Ukraine which hitherto was stranded in millions of tons in the ports following blockage by Russia since February.
The pact between both nations created a protected export corridor via the Black Sea for Ukrainian grain after Kyiv lost access to its main export route when Russia attacked Ukraine via land, air and sea.
Moscow said at the time that one of the main reasons it signed the deal was because it wanted to help developing countries stave off food shortages.
But Putin said on Wednesday that Ukraine and the West were not honouring its terms and that most of the grain was going to the EU, not to poorer countries, a development the Russian leader said would have to change if what he called an “unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe” was to be averted.
“I met with the leaders of the African Union, with the leaders of African countries, and promised them that we would do everything to ensure their interests and facilitate the export of Ukrainian grain,” Putin told an economic forum in Russia’s Far East region.
According to him, if shipments to Turkey as an intermediary country were excluded he said that only two out of 87 shipments had fallen under the U.N. World Food Programme, representing just 60,000 tonnes or 3% of the total 2 million tonnes exported so far.
“We are honouring the agreements. (But) it turns out….that they (the West) have just royally screwed us over and not just us but the poorest countries whose interests were the pretext for doing all this.”
There were roughly 70 ships stranded in Ukraine when Russia invaded in February, some of which had already been loaded with grain, with contracts already signed. Some of those contracted cargoes have been the first to move.
Putin spoke about possibly restricting grain and food exports to the EU and promised to discuss the matter with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, who helped broker the original deal along with UN Secretary General.
Ukraine in response however denied flouting the terms of the agreement and that there were no grounds to renegotiate it.