UPDATE 2 - European Countries Urge Moscow To Extend Grain Deal

BERLIN/MOSCOW (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 18th July, 2023) Germany calls on Russia to extend the Black Sea Grain Initiative, German government spokeswoman Christiane Hoffmann said on Monday.

Earlier in the day, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that grain deal was de facto terminated, however Moscow would immediately return to its implementation as soon as the commitments toward Moscow are fulfilled.

"We have taken note of the Kremlin's statement and continue to call for another extension to the grain deal," Hoffmann told a briefing, adding that Berlin expects that the grain deal will be extended for a longer period of time than before.

Austria and the Netherlands also urged Russia to extend the grain deal.

"We urgently call on Russia to agree to an extension of the Black Sea Grain Initiative. It is crucial for global food security and brings millions of tons of grain & seeds to those in need," the Austrian Foreign Ministry tweeted.

Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra said that the Netherlands supported the United Nations, the European Commission and Turkey in their efforts to find a solution to the grain deal issue.

"It is disappointing that Russia obstructs the extension of the Black Sea Grain Initiative. Extending the deal is important to prevent food prices from rising and to avoid market destabilization," he tweeted, adding, "The Netherlands urges Russia to resume the implementation of the Black Sea Grain Initiative without delay."

France urged Russia to reconsider its decision.

"France condemns Russia's suspension of its participation in the Black Sea Grain Initiative. Russia alone is responsible for blocking navigation in that maritime area and is imposing an illegal blockade on Ukrainian ports. It must stop its blackmail on global food security and reverse its decision," the French foreign ministry said in a statement, adding that Paris will continue cooperation with its partners to allay food insecurity risks for vulnerable countries.

Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani said the county was seeking other solutions to the problem.

"Food shortage in Africa affects us all. Very concerned that Russia has terminated the grain deal. We are already working on other solutions. The issue will be addressed at the Food Security Summit in Rome on July 24, which we organised with the UN," Tajani said on Twitter.

World Trade Organization Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala called for not losing hope in the deal's possible revival.

"Deeply disappointed at the termination of the Black Sea Grain Initiative & the interruption of the grain trade from Ukraine. I share UN SG (Antonio Guterres') regret & concern. Black Sea trade in food, feed & fertilizer is critical to the stability of global food prices. sad to say that poor people & poor countries are hardest hit. Let's keep hope alive on renewal," she said on Twitter.

Last week, Putin said that Russia might suspend its participation in the Black Sea Grain Initiative until obligations toward Moscow are fulfilled. In a phone call with his South African counterpart, Cyril Ramaphosa, Putin said that the deal's main objective, namely to supply grain to countries in need, including those in Africa, has not been achieved.

Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and the United Nations struck a package agreement to provide a humanitarian maritime corridor for ships carrying food and fertilizer from Ukrainian Black Sea ports on July 22, 2022. Despite having since agreed to several extensions to the grain deal, which is due to expire on Monday, Moscow has been pointing out that the deal's component on the facilitation of Russian grain and fertilizer exports was not being fulfilled.