Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov played down the significance of a second ship traversing Ukraine’s temporary Black Sea corridor, stating on Monday that it was unrelated to the potential revival of a grain deal involving Russia.
Kyiv recently reported that a vessel carrying steel products to Africa had departed from Ukraine’s Odesa port using a temporary “humanitarian” corridor in the Black Sea. This marked the second ship to do so after Russia’s withdrawal from a U.N.-brokered agreement last month, which had enabled safe grain exports.
During a routine Kremlin briefing, Peskov reiterated Moscow’s position that the revival of the grain deal hinged on the West’s fulfillment of promises regarding Russia’s grain and fertilizer exports.
“The prospects for renewing the grain deal are contingent upon the actual implementation—rather than mere words—of the promises made to Russia. This means executing the aspects of the deal concerning Russia,” Peskov explained.
While Russia’s grain and fertilizer exports remain untouched by Western sanctions stemming from its military actions in Ukraine, Russia asserts that obstacles in payments, logistics, and insurance persist as barriers to shipping. Kyiv introduced the “humanitarian corridor” in the Black Sea to free cargo ships stranded in its ports since Russia deployed tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine on February 24, 2022.
“(The temporary corridor) is an entirely separate matter from the grain deal, and our defense ministry is monitoring it as required,” Peskov stated.
Following the expiration of the grain deal, Russia carried out a series of missile and drone strikes on Ukrainian ports. Kyiv responded with sea drone attacks on Russian warships near a crucial Russian port and a Russian tanker close to Crimea.
Both Ukraine and Russia hold prominent roles as grain exporters. Nearly 33 million tonnes of Ukrainian grain were exported during the year the Black Sea deal was in operation.