Russia said on Wednesday it would resume its participation in a deal freeing up grain exports from war-torn Ukraine, reversing a move that world leaders had said threatened to exacerbate global hunger.
Moscow announced the sudden reversal after Turkey and the United Nations helped keep Ukrainian grain flowing for several days without Russian participation in inspections.
The Russian defense ministry justified the change by saying it had received guarantees from Kyiv not to use the Black Sea grain corridor for military operations against Russia. Kyiv did not immediately comment on that, but has denied in the past that it used the agreed shipping corridor as cover for attacks.
“The Russian Federation considers that the guarantees received at the moment appear sufficient, and resumes the implementation of the agreement,” the Russian ministry statement said.
The grain deal, originally reached three months ago, had dispelled a global food crisis by lifting a de facto Russian blockade on Ukraine, one of the world’s biggest suppliers. The prospect that it could fall apart this week had revived fears of global hunger and pushed up prices.
Russia suspended its involvement in the deal on Saturday, saying it could not guarantee safety for civilian ships crossing the Black Sea after an attack on its fleet. Ukraine and Western countries called that a false pretext for “blackmail” using threats to the global food supply.
But Russia’s suspension failed to stop shipments, which resumed on Monday without Moscow’s participation, in a program backed by Turkey and the United Nations. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu had told his Turkish counterpart that the deal would resume.
Putin said on Wednesday Russia reserved the right to withdraw from the grain deal if Ukraine violated its guarantees but that if it did so, it would not impede grain supplies from Ukraine to Turkey.
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