Russia’s Decision to End Black Sea Grain Initiative Threatens Global Food Security

In a significant blow to global food security, Russia decided not to renew the Black Sea Grain Initiative (BSGI) on 17 July, nearly one year after its signing in Istanbul. The BSGI had allowed Ukraine to export agricultural goods to global markets and played a crucial role in stabilizing food prices amid the ongoing world food crisis.

Before Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, the country was a critical global food supplier, accounting for a significant share of barley, maize, and wheat production. However, Russia’s invasion led to attacks on grain fields and silos, blocking Ukrainian ports and causing a spike in global food prices. The BSGI sought to re-establish a vital route for Ukraine’s agricultural exports and help lower global food prices.

Despite numerous challenges, the BSGI achieved its key purpose. Since August 2022, Ukraine exported almost 33 million tonnes of grains and food to 45 countries, contributing to a 25% reduction in global food prices since the peak reached after Russia’s attack. Over half of the exported grain, including two-thirds of the wheat, went to developing countries.

Moreover, the BSGI ensured access to grain for the World Food Programme (WFP), with Ukraine supplying 80% of the wheat procured to support humanitarian operations in food-insecure countries like Afghanistan, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen. However, with Russia’s withdrawal from the initiative, the WFP faces challenges in procuring grain at higher prices and longer lead times.


Russia’s decision to pull out of the BSGI came despite renewed proposals from the UN Secretary-General to address its concerns. Russia falsely claimed that its own agricultural exports were hindered, despite publicly available trade data showing otherwise. The EU clarified that its sanctions have no impact on Russian food exports to third countries, but Russia chose to weaponize food, endangering global food supply.

In response to Russia’s actions, the EU is working along three main lines. Firstly, it will support the UN and Türkiye’s efforts to resume the BSGI. Secondly, it will strengthen “Solidarity Lanes,” alternative routes for Ukrainian agricultural exports through the EU. Thirdly, the EU has increased financial support to address food security in needy countries, providing €18 billion until 2024.

The international community is urged to step up assistance in support of global food security and encourage Russia to return to negotiations. Responsible stewardship of global food security is a shared interest that demands urgent action to protect those most in need.

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