Zelenskyy calls Putin’s U-turn on grain trade with Ukraine a “failure of Russian aggression” | Ukraine

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has hailed Russia’s U-turn on resuming the UN-backed grain export deal just days after threatening the Kremlin’s exit as a “significant diplomatic result” for Ukraine and “the whole world”.

“The implementation of the Grain Export Initiative will continue,” said Zelenskyy in his speech on Wednesday evening.

After a dramatic drone attack on its warships in the port of Sevastopol, Russia initially said it would abandon the brokered deal that enabled grain exports from Ukraine through the Black Sea. Russia’s defense ministry said it was satisfied to have received “sufficient” guarantees from Kyiv that it would not use the sea corridor for attacks.

“We have demanded assurances and guarantees from the Ukrainian side that something like this will not happen again, that the humanitarian corridors will not be used militarily,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a video meeting with his coordination council on Wednesday.

Zelenskyy, however, said the Kremlin’s demand for guarantees showed “the failure of Russian aggression,” noting that “Russian blackmail has gotten nowhere.”

After eight months of war, “the Kremlin says it wants security guarantees from Ukraine,” he said. “Two hundred and fifty-two days ago, Russia requested security guarantees from the United States of America.

“These are really remarkable changes. This shows both the failure of Russian aggression and how strong you and I are if we remain united.”

Russia’s decision to rejoin the UN grain corridor was seen as a humiliating about-face by Ukraine and its western allies.

“Putin was humiliated again… the Kremlin blackmailer once again made a laughingstock of the whole world and withdrew,” wrote Anton Gerashchenko, a senior presidential aide to Volodymyr Zelenskyy, via Telegram on Wednesday night.

Mykhalio Podolyak, another senior adviser to Zelenskyy, described Russia as “a player in a casino who got lucky several times” but “went all in… and lost.”

British Foreign Secretary James Cleverley said Vladimir Putin realized he had “shot himself in the foot” by blocking ships from entering Ukrainian ports.

“Putin must stop using food as a weapon,” he said. “The grain initiative must now be extended beyond November without further Russian obstruction.”

Putin must stop using food as a weapon.

He has realized that he shot himself in the foot by preventing ships from entering Ukrainian ports to load grain to feed the world.

The grain initiative must now be extended beyond November without further Russian hindrances.

— James Cleverly🇬🇧 (@JamesCleverly) November 2, 2022

Andrey Sizov, head of Russia-focused agriculture consultancy Sovecon, said Moscow’s decision was “a rather unexpected reversal,” but the deal remains shaky amid uncertainty over whether it will be extended after November 19.

However, the United States welcomed the restoration of the deal and urged Russia to renew it later this month.

State Department spokesman Ned Price praised the UN-Turkey mediators but said it was important that the deal “is not only restarted but renewed later this month”.

Foreign Minister Antony Blinken thanked Turkey for its efforts and reminded Moscow of the “importance of continued compliance with United Nations-brokered agreements and its commitments in support of global food security,” the statement said.

Portal contributed to this report