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US appeals to India for Mediation in renewing ‘Black Sea Grain Initiative’ deal

Washington D.C., July 06: In a bid to secure the renewal of the Black Sea Grain Initiative deal, the United States has appealed to India to utilize its “unique voice” to convince Russia to approve of further extension of this critical deal.

The deal, which is set to expire on July 17, requires approval from both countries to ensure the continued supply of food grains from the war-torn region to the world, particularly to developing nations.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative deal, mediated by the United Nations and Turkey last year, established a safe humanitarian corridor for the export of Ukrainian-Russian grains through the Black Sea.

Its purpose was to address the rising food prices resulting from the geopolitical conflict in the region, known as the ‘breadbasket’ of the world.

During an online press conference, the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Bridget Brink, highlighted the significance of India’s involvement, stating, “India’s leaders have a unique voice to stand up for developing countries and encourage the continuation and expansion of the Black Sea Grain Initiative to ensure people around the world can access the food they desperately need.”

Brink issued a warning that the deal’s collapse could occur precisely when the new harvest in war-torn Ukraine is being prepared.

Before the outbreak of the war, Russia and Ukraine held top positions as global exporters of wheat, barley, maize, and vegetable oils.

In the 2020-21 season, Russia provided 52.32 million tons (7.8 percent) and Ukraine provided 69.82 million tons (11.3 percent) of cereals to the world, according to the USDA.

Moreover, in 2020, Ukraine and Russia accounted for 52% and 20% of the global trade of sunflower seed and oil, respectively.

The war in Ukraine disrupted the global grain supply chain, leading to a global food crisis, particularly affecting developing nations that faced food insecurity due to the steep rise in food prices and limited grain supply.

While the deal brokered by Turkey last year provided some relief, Russia has refused to extend it further, claiming that its ship exports frequently get blocked.

This refusal by Russia poses a significant threat to the already disturbed global grain supply chain.

Therefore, the United States is now appealing to India to leverage its position as a “neutral voice” in the Ukraine conflict and primarily persuade Russia to approve a further extension.

India’s historical ties with Russia, rooted in the Indian freedom struggle and later the Cold War politics, have remained intact even as India deepened its strategic partnership with the United States.

India has also been actively involved in providing humanitarian aid to Ukraine, joining 50 other countries, and supports an end to the war.

As an ambassador of the Global South on the world stage, India has consistently voiced concerns about the rising prices of food, fuel, and fertilizers and their adverse effects on developing economies.

The upcoming visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Europe for France’s national day parade adds urgency to the India’s mediation for renewing the Black Sea Grain Initiative deal.

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