Russia announced on Wednesday that it would resume its participation in a deal to release vital grain exports from war-torn Ukraine, after suspending its participation over the weekend in a move that threatened to exacerbate global hunger.
The Russian defense ministry stated that Kyiv had provided written assurances that the Black Sea grain corridor would not be used for military operations against Russia.
"The Russian Federation considers the current assurances to be sufficient, and will resume implementation of the agreement," according to a ministry statement.
As a result of an attack on its fleet in the Black Sea, Russia withdrew from the agreement on Saturday, stating that it could no longer guarantee the safety of civilian ships traversing the sea. Ukraine stated that this was a false excuse.
Earlier, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated that Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu had informed his Turkish counterpart that the grain deal brokered by Turkey and the United Nations on July 22 would remain in effect as of midday on Wednesday.
"As previously agreed, grain transports will resume at 12 p.m. today," Erdogan said.
Following the announcement, wheat, soybeans, corn, and rapeseed prices fell sharply on global markets, easing concerns about rising food inaccessibility.
Ships have continued to transport Ukrainian grain on the route despite the suspension, but industry sources told Reuters that this was unlikely to continue for long because insurance companies were not issuing new contracts due to Russia's action.
The head of the Russia-focused agriculture consulting firm Sovecon, Andrey Sizov, remarked that Russia's decision was "quite unexpected."
"However, the agreement remains tenuous, as it is once again unknown whether there will be an extension," Sizov said. "With two weeks to go until the extension, it appears that discussions on this topic will continue."
The agreement expires on November 19, and a European diplomat briefed on the grain negotiations told Reuters that Russian President Vladimir Putin was likely to use the potential extension to gain leverage and dominate the G20 summit in Indonesia next month.
Earlier, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated that the international community should respond firmly to any Russian attempts to disrupt Ukraine's export corridor across the Black Sea, which has been blocked since the February 24 Russian invasion of Ukraine.
As Ukraine is one of the world's largest grain and oilseed suppliers, the Russian blockade has exacerbated food shortages and a crisis in the cost of living in numerous nations.
Zelensky stated in a Tuesday night video address that cargo ships were still able to leave Ukrainian ports due to the efforts of Turkey and the United Nations.
"However, a dependable and long-term defense is required for the grain corridor," stated Zelensky.
"Russia must be made aware that the international community will respond harshly to any attempts to disrupt our food exports," Zelensky said. The lives of tens of millions of people are at stake here.
The grain deal aimed to aid in the prevention of famine in underdeveloped nations by increasing the amount of wheat, sunflower oil, and fertilizer on global markets and thereby reducing the steep rise in prices. It targeted the pre-war monthly export level of 5 million metric tons from Ukraine.