Russia on Wednesday rejoined a deal to allow Ukrainian grain exports through the Black Sea, but President Vladimir Putin warned Moscow could again pull out of the agreement.
The revival of an arrangement aimed at easing fears of global food insecurity came as Washington said it was “increasingly concerned” Russia could use nuclear weapons in its campaign in Ukraine.
Russia’s defence ministry said it had now received sufficient guarantees from Kyiv that it would not use the maritime corridor to carry out attacks.
President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Twitter that he had thanked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for his role in preserving the grain deal. The Ukrainian leader later hailed its resumption as “a significant diplomatic result for our country and the whole world”.
Moscow had warned the route was dangerous for shipments without its participation in the agreement but some deliveries from Ukraine still went ahead on Monday and Tuesday.
A Turkish security source said the corridor was open again from 0900 GMT although no departures from Ukraine were planned Wednesday.
The agreement comes up for renewal on November 19, but the extension is a separate issue and that decision will be made “taking into account all the accompanying factors,” state news agency RIA Novosti reported him as saying.
The deal, overseen by the Joint Coordination Centre in Istanbul, has allowed more than 9.7 million metric tonnes of grain and other foodstuffs to leave Ukrainian ports.
World grain prices, which had soared earlier this week, began to ease on Wednesday after Russia announced it was returning to the deal, despite doubts over its future.
The Russian defence ministry said it obtained written guarantees from Kyiv.
– ‘Turbulent situation’ –
“We have grown increasingly concerned about the potential as these months have gone on,” said White House national security spokesman John Kirby.
He did not confirm a New York Times report that high-level Russian military officials recently discussed when and how they might use tactical nuclear weapons on the battlefield.
Russia’s foreign ministry said the world’s “top priority” should be to avoid a clash of nuclear powers.