Russia said on Monday that it was pausing its participation in an agreement that allowed Ukraine to export its grain by sea despite a wartime blockade — a deal seen as essential to keeping global food prices stable — and would resume participation only after its conditions were met.
The Kremlin’s spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov told journalists on Monday that the agreement was “suspended.”
The deal, known as the Black Sea Grain Initiative and brokered by the United Nations and Turkey a year ago, had been set to expire on Monday. There was no immediate response from either party on Monday to Russia’s announcement.
Last week, United Nations secretary general, António Guterres sent a letter containing proposals for President Vladimir V. Putin in an effort to meet Russia’s conditions for an extension of the deal.
Negotiators from the U.N. and Turkey had spent the weekend awaiting a response from Moscow as the clock ticked down. In the days leading up to the deal’s expiry, grain exports from Ukraine’s ports had dwindled almost to zero.
Negotiations on extending it went down to the final hours as Russia repeatedly threatened to pull out of the agreement, which it considers one-sided in Ukraine’s favor.
A rare example of fruitful negotiations between the warring parties, the deal successfully eased shortages that resulted from blockades in the first months of the war, which caused global wheat prices to soar and threatened famine in parts of the Middle East and Africa. It allowed Ukraine to restart the export of millions of tons of grain that had languished for months, and it has been renewed multiple times.
But Moscow has argued that while the deal has benefited Ukraine, Western sanctions have restricted the sale of Russia’s agricultural products. Last week, in an effort to address Russia’s demands, Mr. Guterres sent Mr. Putin proposals that would “remove hurdles affecting financial transactions” through Russia’s agricultural bank while allowing the Ukrainian grain shipments to continue.
In addition to its hope for smoother financial transactions, Russia has sought guarantees that would facilitate exports of its own grain and fertilizers, and restore an ammonia pipeline that crosses Ukraine.
Last week, Mr. Putin said that Russia “may suspend our participation in this agreement,” according to Tass, a state news agency. “And if everyone reiterates that all promises given to us will be fulfilled — let them fulfill these promises. And we will immediately join this agreement. Again.”
Last year, Russia suspended its participation in inspections that were part of the deal only to rejoin in a matter of days. The deal was most recently renewed in May.
Ukraine has exported 32.8 million tons of grain and other food since the initiative began, according to U.N. data. Under the agreement, ships are permitted to pass by Russian naval vessels that have blockaded Ukraine’s ports since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022. The ships are inspected off the coast of Istanbul, in part to ensure they are not carrying weapons.