Grain export shipments from Ukraine resumed on Wednesday as Russia said it was rejoining a deal brokered by the UN and Turkey to establish a safe Black Sea corridor.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told parliament that “shipments will continue from 1200 today (0900 GMT) as planned”, after a call between the Russian and Turkish defence ministers.
Russia’s defence ministry confirmed it was resuming participation, saying it had received “sufficient” guarantees from Kyiv on demilitarising the maritime corridor.
“Russia considers that the received guarantees are at the moment sufficient and is resuming the implementation of the agreement,” the ministry said.
The deal, overseen by the Joint Coordination Centre in Istanbul, has allowed more than 9.7 million metric tonnes of grain and other foodstuffs to leave Ukrainian ports.
This has brought much-needed relief to a global food crisis triggered by Russia’s campaign in Ukraine, a major grain exporter.
Under the terms of the deal, which was agreed in July, ships moving to and from Ukraine are inspected by a joint team of Russian, Turkish, Ukrainian and UN officials.
Russia on Saturday had said it was temporarily pulling out, accusing Ukraine of misusing the safe shipping corridor to launch a drone attack on its Black Sea fleet.
Some shipments in and out of Ukraine continued after that but the UN on Tuesday said there would be no movements on Wednesday.
– ‘Dangerous’ without Russia –
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday had urged “reliable and long-term protection” of the corridor while Russia’s Vladimir Putin demanded “real guarantees”.
In a call with Zelensky on Tuesday, French President Emmanuel Macron denounced Russia’s decision to exit the deal saying it “again harms global food security”.
Ukraine had dismissed Russia’s accusations as a “false pretext” to withdraw from the deal.
The Kremlin has long criticised the deal, claiming that most of the consignments were arriving in Europe, not poor countries where grain was needed most.
Ukrainian officials have denied the claim and data compiled by a monitoring group as part of the accord does not reflect this assertion.
Grain-loaded cargo kept sailing on Monday and Tuesday, but the UN said any ship movements after Russia announced its suspension were “a temporary and extraordinary measure”.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov had said on Monday that it was “dangerous” to continue exports without Russia’s participation.
The Russian defence ministry on Wednesday said it obtained written guarantees from Kyiv “thanks to the participation” of the UN and “assistance” from Turkey.
It said Kyiv guaranteed “the non-use of the humanitarian corridor and Ukrainian ports determined in the interests of the export of agricultural products for conducting military operations against the Russian Federation.”