Washington, 18 July 2023 (TDI): The Secretary of State Antony Blinken has urged Russia to extend the Black Sea Grain Initiative after the latter refused to do so.
Secretary Antony Blinken stressed that Russia’s refusal to extend the Black Sea Grain Initiative would harm millions of hungry people throughout the world and also he severely criticized the idea of using food as a weapon.
Russia’s refusal to extend the Black Sea Grain Initiative harms millions of hungry people around the world. Using food as a weapon is unconscionable. We urge Russia to reverse course.
— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) July 17, 2023
The Black Sea Initiative
The Black Sea initiative is a deal between Russia, Ukraine, the United Nations, and Turkey. It allows Ukraine to safely export food grains through the Black Sea corridor.
Ukraine is one of the major producers of oilseeds and grain. A huge amount of its grain supply is shipped through the Black Sea corridor and is used by the United Nations World Food Programme (UNWFP) as an aid to countries struggling with hunger such as Yemen, Ethiopia, and Somalia.
Due to the Russia- Ukraine conflict, global food prices have risen to a record high. The Black Sea Grain Deal was an arrangement aimed to relieve the global food crisis.
In correspondence to the Black Sea Grain Initiative, Russia signed a separate Istanbul agreement with the UN to facilitate the shipment of Russian food and fertilizers.
According to Russia, the lack of proper implementation of the Istanbul agreement defeats the purpose of continuing the Black Sea initiative, which also did not live up to its humanitarian rationale.
Russian Ambassador to the US, Anatoly Antonov in an answer to the media, responded that Russia will be ready to consider the issue of restoring the mechanism only when they are sure about the efficiency and effectiveness of the Istanbul agreement.
Without Russia, the Black Sea initiative will cease to operate as of July 18, 2023. Russia had already extended Black Sea Grain Initiative in May for two months but due to its unattended concerns, it has decided not to extend the Black Sea grain deal again.