- Putin accused Kiev and the West of violating the grain agreement
- He says he wants to discuss changing the terms of the contract
- Europe threatens to cut energy exports if it controls prices
KYIV, Sept 7 (Reuters) – President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday he wanted to discuss resuming a United Nations-brokered deal that allows Ukraine to export its grain via the Black Sea, and threatened to cut off all energy supplies to Europe if Brussels raises prices. Russian gas.
In a war speech at an economic forum in Russia’s Far Eastern region, Putin made little mention of his invasion of Ukraine, but responded to a question by saying that Russia would not lose the war and strengthen its sovereignty and influence.
On the ground, Ukrainian officials were tight-lipped about how the counteroffensive they launched late last month was progressing, but a Russian-based official in eastern Ukraine said Ukrainian forces had attacked a town there.
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The grain deal, brokered by the United Nations and Turkey, created a protected export corridor through the Black Sea for Ukrainian food products after Kyiv lost access to its main export route as Russia attacked Ukraine by land, air and sea.
The deal, designed to help ease global food prices by boosting supplies of grains and oilseeds, is the only diplomatic breakthrough between Moscow and Kiev in more than six months of war.
But Putin said the deal would deliver grain, fertilizer and other food to the EU and Turkey rather than to poorer countries.
“It is worth considering how to limit exports of grain and other food products in this way,” he said, adding that Russia would continue to adhere to its terms in the hope of meeting its original goals.
“I will certainly consult the President of Turkey, Mr. (Tayyip) Erdogan on this topic, because he and I were the first to create a mechanism to export Ukrainian grain, I repeat, to help poor. Countries.”
His comments raised the possibility that the deal could be unraveled if it cannot be successfully renegotiated or renewed by Moscow when it expires in late November.
Ukraine, whose ports were blockaded after Russia invaded in February, said the terms of the agreement signed on July 22 for a four-month period were being strictly adhered to and there was no reason to revise it.
“I believe that such unexpected and unsubstantiated statements indicate an attempt to find new aggressive talking points to influence global public opinion and, above all, put pressure on the United Nations,” said Michało Podoliak, adviser to the president. read more
The deal threw Kiev a lifeline, providing much-needed revenue to a war-ravaged economy. It has no say in which countries Ukrainian grain should go to, and the United Nations has insisted that it is a commercial — not humanitarian — operation driven by the market.
According to data from the Istanbul-based Coordinating Committee, which monitors the implementation of the agreement, 30% of total cargo, including those destined for or routed to Turkey, went to low- and lower-middle-income countries.
Grain and gas
Ukraine hopes to export 60 million tons of grain in eight to nine months, presidential economic adviser Oleh Ustenko said in July, warning that those exports could take up to 24 months if ports do not function properly.
Putin complained that another part of the deal, which eased restrictions on Russian food exporters and exporters, had not been implemented.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov cast doubt on the deal a day earlier, accusing the West of failing to honor mutual pledges at the United Nations to help facilitate Moscow’s exports. read more
Russia’s grain exports in August are expected to be 28% lower than the same period last year, according to a forecast by Russia’s Sovecon consultancy.
Another major global effect of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was a spike in energy prices, as the West responded with sanctions and Moscow restricted gas exports to Europe, blaming Western restrictions and technical problems.
As the European Union prepares to propose a price cap on Russian gas to curb an energy crisis that threatens widespread hardship this winter, Putin has threatened to cut off all supplies if such a move is made.
“Will there be any political decisions that contradict the agreements? Yes, we will not fulfill them. We will not offer anything if it is against our interests,” Putin said.
“We will not supply gas, oil, coal, heating oil – we will not supply anything,” Putin said.
Europe typically imports 40% of its gas and 30% of its oil from Russia.
Is the Ukrainian battlefield a victory?
Asked by a moderator at an economic forum in Vladivostok about Russia’s “special military action” in Ukraine, Putin said:
“We have not lost anything and will not lose anything … For what we have gained, I can say that the main gain is the strengthening of our sovereignty.”
The governor of Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk region, which Russia has claimed seized on behalf of separatist proxies, told Ukrainian TV on Tuesday that Ukraine was fighting back.
A “counteroffensive is underway and … our forces are enjoying some success. Let’s leave it at that,” Serhiy Kaidai said on Tuesday, without providing locations.
On Tuesday, an official from the pro-Moscow self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic said fighting was taking place between Kharkiv and Russian-held Issem in the eastern city of Balaklia, home to 27,000 people.
“Today, the Ukrainian armed forces, after a long artillery preparation … launched an attack on Balaklia …” Daniel Besonov said in a telegram, adding that if the city is lost, the Russian forces in Isium will suffer in their northwestern flank.
Russia says it has repelled an attack in the south and has not reported any territorial losses.
Russia has captured Kotema in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk region from Ukrainian forces, Russia’s Defense Ministry said. The village, home to about 600 people, is claimed by the Russian-backed Donetsk People’s Republic as part of its territory.
Reuters could not independently verify the battlefield accounts.
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Reported by Reuters; By Andrew Osborne; Editing by Philippa Fletcher
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