/ Go to the mediabankA view shows wheat to be harvested in a field in Zaporozhye region. / Go to the mediabankInternationalIndiaAfricaAs the extension of the Black Sea Grain Initiative signed between Moscow, Ankara, Kiev, and the United Nations at the height of the Ukraine conflict last summer beyond the May 18 deadline hangs in the balance, this deal was described as never having been to the benefit of Russia by international affairs expert Mark Sleboda.If Russia opts out of the Grain Deal, it will be because the agreed goals of this arrangement were never met, Mark Sleboda told Sputnik.
"Russia should have canceled this deal, as far as I'm concerned, a long time ago," the international relations and security analyst underscored.
Amid ongoing work towards reaching an extension of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which is set to expire on May 18, Sleboda pointed out that it was a “bad deal” for Moscow.Russia, the number one global grain exporter, agreed to sign the deal, along with Ankara, Kiev, and the United Nations, at the height of the Ukraine conflict in July 2022. It provides for exports of Ukrainian grain, food, and fertilizers over the Black Sea from three ports, including Odessa. But, importantly, it also includes a memorandum of understanding between Russia and the UN to unblock Russian grain and fertilizer exports via the Black Sea lanes amid Western sanctions. However, as Moscow has repeatedly pointed out, none of these obligations with respect to it have been met.“The US is always quick to point out that they’re not targeting Russian grain,” Mark Sleboda clarified, adding:“They’re sanctioning every ability of Russia to export their grain. They’ve cut Russian banks from the international payments system… They have sanctioned and threatened with secondary sanctions against any companies providing insurance for ships, which is absolutely essential. Their sanctions have blocked Russian ships from being able to be accepted in foreign ports… They’ve cut Russian fertilizer.”Furthermore, the Grain Deal was reached with an understanding that towards achieving the goal of feeding the poor countries of the world, grain from the fifth largest grain producer – Ukraine – would be safely allowed through the conflict zone… But only if sanctions inhibiting Russia from getting its grain to them were removed, Sleboda emphasized.However, the West never complied with this, and “there weren’t any firm guarantees,” he added.AnalysisGrain Deal Extension ‘Unlikely’ Unless Russia’s Terms Are Met4 May, 11:15 GMTThen it emerged that a major part of the Ukrainian grain had gone to rich countries, particularly the EU, rather than the poorest. A huge amount of the grain went to feed Spanish pigs, while the some of the Eastern European states have railed at the influx as hurting their own producers – so much so that they have pressured the European Commission to ban Ukrainian grain from their own countries.As for African countries, they are perfectly aware who is inhibiting them getting the grain and the fertilizer they need, the analyst said.“It is not Russia. It is the West and their economic war of sanctions on Russia,” Sleboda said, pointing out that if Russia does choose to continue this deal, it will certainly not be because they have benefited in any way from the terms that were agreed upon.For more in-depth analysis of current affairs, check out our Sputnik radio show The Final Countdown.