Putin casts doubt on Ukraine’s grain deal and gas supplies to Europe

  • Putin accuses Kyiv and the West of violating the grain deal
  • He says he wants to discuss changing the terms of the deal
  • Threatens to cut off energy exports if Europe imposes price controls

Kyiv (Reuters) – President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday he wanted to discuss reopening a United Nations-brokered deal allowing Ukraine to export its grain through the Black Sea and threatened to cut off all energy supplies to Europe if Brussels set a price. Russian gas.

In a combative speech before an economic forum in Russia’s Far Eastern region, Putin made little mention of his invasion of Ukraine, but said in response to a question that Russia would not lose the war and had strengthened its sovereignty and influence.

On the ground, Ukrainian officials have remained cautious about the success of the counter-offensive they launched late last month, but a Russian-appointed official in eastern Ukraine said Ukrainian forces attacked a town there.

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The grain deal, facilitated by the United Nations and Turkey, created a protected corridor for the export of Ukrainian food through the Black Sea after Kyiv lost access to the main export route when Russia attacked Ukraine by land, air and sea.

Designed to help ease global food prices by increasing supplies of grain and oilseeds, the agreement marked the only diplomatic breakthrough between Moscow and Kiev in more than six months of the war.

But Putin said the deal was moving grain, fertilizer and other foodstuffs to the European Union and Turkey and not to poor countries whose interests he said were a pretext for the deal, and added that he wanted to discuss changing its terms.

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“It may be worth thinking about how to limit the export of grain and other foodstuffs along this route,” he said, while also saying that Russia would continue to abide by its terms in the hope that it would achieve its original goals.

“I will certainly consult the President of Turkey, Mr. (Tayyab) Erdogan, on this subject because it is I who set up a mechanism for the export of Ukrainian grain above all, I repeat, in order to help the poorest countries.”

His comments raised the possibility that the agreement could collapse if it cannot be successfully renegotiated or if Moscow does not renew it when it expires in late November.

Ukraine, whose ports Russia closed after its invasion in February, said the terms of the agreement, which was signed on July 22 for a period of four months, are strictly controlled and there are no reasons to renegotiate it.

“I believe that such unexpected and baseless statements indicate an attempt to find new aggressive talking points to influence world public opinion and, above all, to put pressure on the United Nations,” said Mikhailo Podolyak, a presidential adviser. Read more

The deal delivered a lifeline for Kif, as it gave a much-needed source of income to a war-ravaged economy. It doesn’t say anything about which countries Ukraine’s grain should go to, and the UN stressed that it’s a commercial, not a humanitarian, market-led process.

According to data from the Istanbul-based Coordination Group that monitors the implementation of the deal, 30% of all cargo, including those destined for or destined through Turkey, went to low- and middle-income countries.

Grain and gas

Presidential economic adviser Ole Ustenko said in July that Ukraine hoped to export 60 million tons of grain in eight to nine months, and warned that those exports could take up to 24 months if the ports were not working properly.

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Putin has complained that another part of the deal aimed at easing restrictions on Russian food exporters and shippers has also not been implemented.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov cast doubt on the deal the day before, accusing Western nations at the United Nations of failing to honor mutual pledges to help facilitate Moscow’s shipments. Read more

Russian grain exports in August are expected to fall 28% from the same period last year, according to forecasts from Russian consultancy Sovcon.

The other major global fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was rising energy prices as the West responded with sanctions and Moscow restricted gas exports to Europe, blaming Western restrictions and technical problems.

With the European Union poised to propose a price cap on Russian gas to try to contain an energy crisis that threatens widespread hardship this winter, Putin has threatened to cut off all supplies if he takes such a step.

“Will there be any political decisions that contradict contracts? Yes, we will not fulfill them. We will not save anything at all if it is against our interests,” Putin said.

“We will not save gas, oil, coal and heating oil … We will not save anything,” Putin said.

Europe usually imports about 40% of its gas and 30% of its oil from Russia.

The success of the battle in Ukraine?

In response to a question about what Russia calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine by a mediator at the Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Putin said:

“We have lost nothing and will not lose anything… In terms of what we have gained, I can say that the main gain was the strengthening of our sovereignty.”

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The governor of eastern Ukraine’s Luhansk region, which Russia said it seized on behalf of separatist proxies, told Ukrainian television on Tuesday that Ukraine was resisting.

“A counterattack is underway and…our forces are enjoying some success. Let’s leave it at that,” Serhi Gayday said on Tuesday.

An official in the pro-Moscow Donetsk People’s Republic said on Tuesday that fighting broke out in Balaklya, an eastern town of 27,000 people between Russia-controlled Kharkiv and Izyum, the site of a major railway hub Moscow uses to supply its forces.

“Today, after a lengthy artillery preparation … the Ukrainian armed forces began an attack on Balaklya …,” Daniil Bezsonov said on Telegram, adding that if the town was lost, Russian forces in Izyum would be vulnerable on its northwest side.

Russia says it has repelled an attack in the south and has not announced any territorial losses.

The Russian Defense Ministry said its forces had captured Kodima in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk region from Ukrainian forces. The Russian-backed Donetsk People’s Republic claims the village of 600 people as part of its territory.

Reuters was unable to independently verify the battlefield accounts.

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Reporting by Reuters. Written by Andrew Osborne; Editing by Philippa Fletcher

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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