Live updates: Russia’s war in Ukraine

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Bulk carrier ARGO I is docked at the grain terminal of the port of Odessa, Ukraine, on April 10, from where Ukraine ships wheat according to the grain agreement the country currently has with Russia. Bo Amstrup/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP/Getty Images

Russia is “99.9%” likely to quit the Black Sea grain deal when it expires in mid-July, a Ukrainian diplomat has said.

Olha Trofimtseva, an ambassador at large for Ukraine’s foreign ministry, gave two reasons in her post on Telegram: First, that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan – who helped broker the deal – won re-election in May. And second, that Russia – who had agreed a parallel pact with the UN on the export of fertilizers – was close to finding other ways to export them. 

“The grain corridor: 99.9% that Russia will leave it in July,” Trofimtseva said. “There are two main factors in my opinion: Erdogan successfully won the election. [Dmitry] Mazepin … reported to Putin that the terminal for exporting ammonia from Russia is almost complete, which means that the Togliatti-Odesa ammonia pipeline is no longer so important.” 

Mazepin is a Russian billionaire, described in an EU document in 2022 as the former CEO of the mineral fertilizer company Uralchem and “a member of the closest circle of Vladimir Putin.” 

The Togliatti-Odesa pipeline is used to export ammonia from Russia via Ukraine and is currently out of operation.

The Kremlin has repeatedly said there are “no grounds” to extend the deal.

On Thursday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for an extension of the deal, citing – according to a US readout – its importance “to global food security” and warning of “the adverse impact its suspension would have on food importers, especially in developing countries.”

What is the grain deal?: Ukraine, often referred to as “the breadbasket of Europe,” is one of the world’s leading grain exporters. Shortly after the war began, Russia blockaded Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, sparking fears of a global famine.

Since last summer, an agreement between the two sides has enabled the safe passage of ships from Ukraine. It is the first and only major pact to be made between the warring sides since the outbreak of the war and was brokered with the help of Turkey and the United Nations.

As part of its role in the pact, Turkey carries out inspections on all the merchant vessels that pass through the Black Sea in specially established safe corridors.

The deal was extended in May, but questions remain over whether it will continue to be renegotiated and extended indefinitely.


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