Western criticism on Russia pulling out of grain deal 'beating around the bush'
Sanctions caused much greater threat to global food safety than suspension of the deal
Published: Oct 30, 2022 08:20 PM
A UN official inspects the Barbados-flagged ship Nord Vind coming from Ukraine loaded with grain and anchored in Istanbul, on October 11, 2022. Photo: AFP

A UN official inspects the Barbados-flagged ship "Nord Vind" coming from Ukraine loaded with grain and anchored in Istanbul, on October 11, 2022. Photo: AFP

Western countries' criticism toward Russia over its halting of the grain deal is "beating around the bush" as they ignore the fact that the Western sanctions on Russia have posed a greater threat to the global food market, and their fueling of the conflict has caused an escalation, Chinese experts said on Sunday after Western countries condemned Russia's suspension of the grain deal with Ukraine as unwarranted.

On Saturday, Russia's Defense Ministry announced that it was suspending the implementation of agreements on the export of agricultural products from Ukrainian ports, citing a Ukrainian "terror attack" against ships of the Black Sea Fleet and civilian vessels involved in ensuring the security of the grain corridor, RT reported.

Ukrainian authorities neither confirmed nor denied carrying out the attack, but called Russia's decision to suspend the grain deal "primitive blackmail," RT reported.

The breakthrough deal between Moscow and Kiev was reached in Istanbul in July with mediation by the UN and Turkey. It aimed to unlock agricultural exports via the Black Sea from Russia and Ukraine, which had come to a halt due to the conflict between the two countries. The deal was praised as critical for easing the global food crisis and helping the world's poorest nations to avoid starvation, reported RT.

Soon after the news was announced, US President Joe Biden denounced Moscow's decision as "purely outrageous," claiming it would "increase starvation." 

"There's no merit to what they're doing. The UN negotiated that deal and that should be the end of it," Biden said.

The European Union on Sunday also urged Russia to reverse its decision to suspend participation in the vital grain export deal. "Russia's decision to suspend participation in the Black Sea deal puts at risk the main export route of much-needed grain and fertilizers to address the global food crisis caused by its war against Ukraine," EU's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell tweeted.

The West has deliberately ignored that attacks on civilian infrastructure have greatly increased since the attack on the Kerch Bridge earlier this month, Li Ziguo, a senior research fellow with the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times. Li noted that Russia's action is believed to be a response to attacks on ships of the Black Sea Fleet and civilian vessels.

In this scenario, all sides involved, especially the West, should refrain from adding fuel to the fire, Li said.

The Russian government alleged that UK operatives helped plan the drone attack on its fleet at the Black Sea port of Sevastopol in Crimea on Saturday, Russia's TASS quoted the Russian Ministry of Defense as saying. The UK Defense Ministry denied Moscow's claims.

Speaking to reporters, Russian Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov said on Sunday that "Washington's reaction to the terrorist attack on the port of Sevastopol is truly outrageous." He added that the US refrained from condemning "the reckless actions of the Kiev regime," RT reported.

Experts said that Russia's pulling out of the deal will have more impact on Central and Eastern Europe, as well as African countries.

After it halted the deal, Russia, with Turkey's participation, is poised to deliver free of charge up to 500,000 metric tons of grain to the poorest nations in the coming four months, Russian Agriculture Minister Dmitry Patrushev said on the Rossiya-24 news channel on Saturday.

The West always blames Russia as being a cause of the global food crisis, which is a typical excuse and throwing mud at Russia, so they should ask themselves the question, what does Moscow gain from disturbing the global food market? Wang Yiwei, director of the Institute of International Affairs at the Renmin University of China, told the Global Times on Sunday.

Li pointed out that the direct impact of the conflict on the global food crisis cannot compare with the damage caused by sanctions Western countries slapped on Russia. "The sanctions mean Russia failed to import the fertilizers and seed it needed, which is a deeper reason for the global food market price spike, and a bigger threat for global food safety," Li said.