Nfter the Grains Agreement expired, the future of Ukraine’s agricultural exports by sea via the Black Sea is unclear. The agreement brokered by the United Nations and Turkey officially ended late Monday evening after almost a year because Moscow refused to extend it. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called for exports, which are important for world food security, to be continued in cooperation with the UN and Turkey: “The Black Sea Grain Initiative can and should continue – if without Russia, then without Russia.”
Because of the recent destruction of the bridge to the Crimean Peninsula, Russian President Vladimir Putin has threatened Ukraine with military retaliation. Unlike after the first attack on the bridge in October 2022, the Russian authorities assume that they will be able to repair the damage quickly.
A good three dozen countries supporting Ukraine want to discuss military aid in the so-called Ramstein format on Tuesday. It is the 510th day of Ukraine’s defense against the Russian invasion.
Moscow sees bridge only slightly damaged
The foundation of the bridge to Crimea was not damaged by the explosions on Monday morning, reported Deputy Prime Minister Marat Chusnullin. According to Russian information, unmanned remote-controlled boats detonated explosives on the building on Monday morning. Part of the roadway sagged, as photos show. That piece of concrete needs to be replaced, Chusnullin said. He promised that the motorway bridge would be fully restored by November.
According to the information, the parallel railway bridge was not damaged. The train traffic is running according to the timetable, it said. Car traffic was also resumed on Tuesday night – with restrictions. According to official information, after a block on Monday morning, the ferries between the peninsula annexed in 2014 and the Russian mainland also ran again.
“This is the next act of terrorism by the Kiev regime,” Putin said. “Of course there will be an answer from Russia.” The Ministry of Defense is preparing proposals. Russia had earlier threatened to shell key Ukrainian command centers if the Crimean bridge was destroyed. Ukraine sees the structure as a legitimate military target. Initially, there was no confirmation from Kiev that it was involved in the incident.
Grain deal expired
As the last ship from the Ukraine, the Turkish freighter “TQ Samsun” was checked in the waters off Istanbul on Monday and set off for the Netherlands. Then in the evening the agreement on the sea export of Ukrainian grain expired after almost a year; nothing was announced about an extension. Since the summer of 2022, the agreement had enabled Ukraine to sell more than 30 million tons of grain to other countries by sea, despite the Russian war of aggression.
Internationally, the Russian no to an extension was sharply criticized. Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) spoke of a “bad message”. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was disappointed. The European Union condemned the resignation: “With this decision, Russia is further aggravating the global food security crisis caused by its war of aggression against Ukraine and its blockade of Ukrainian seaports,” said foreign policy chief Josep Borrell. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called the termination unscrupulous. This would use food as a weapon.