Putin raised doubts about the Ukraine grain deal and gas supplies to Europe

  • Putin accused Kiev and the West of violating the grain agreement
  • Russia wants to discuss changing the terms of the treaty
  • Europe threatens to cut energy exports if it controls prices

KYIV, Sept 7 (Reuters) – President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday proposed reopening a U.N.-brokered deal on Ukrainian grain exports via the Black Sea and threatened to cut off all energy supplies to Europe if Brussels curbs Russian gas prices.

In a war speech at an economic forum in Russia’s Far Eastern region, Putin made little mention of his invasion of Ukraine, but responded to a question by saying that Russia would not lose the war and had strengthened its sovereignty.

On the ground, Ukrainian officials were tight-lipped about how the counteroffensive they launched late last month was progressing, but a Russian-based official in eastern Ukraine said Ukrainian forces had attacked a town there.

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The grain deal, facilitated by the United Nations and Turkey, created a protected corridor for Ukrainian food supplies after Kyiv lost access to its main export route as Russia attacked Ukraine by land, air and sea.

The deal, designed to ease global food prices by boosting supplies, is the only diplomatic breakthrough between Moscow and Kiev in more than six months of war.

But Putin said the deal should prioritize poorer countries over deliveries of grain, fertilizer and other food to the EU and Turkey.

“It is worth considering how to limit the export of grain and other food products in this way,” he said, adding that Russia will continue to adhere to its regulations in the hope that it will meet its original goals.

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“I will certainly consult the President of Turkey, Mr. (Tayyip) Erdogan on this topic, because he and I were the first to create a mechanism to export Ukrainian grain, I repeat, to help poor. Countries.”

The contract is up for renewal at the end of November.

Ukraine ‘aggression’ raps Russia

Ukraine, whose ports have been blockaded by Russia, said the terms signed on July 22 were strictly adhered to and there was no basis for renegotiation.

“Such unexpected and unsubstantiated statements represent an attempt to find new aggressive talking points to influence global public opinion and, above all, put pressure on the United Nations,” said presidential adviser Michało Podoliak. read more

The deal provided Kiev with much-needed revenue for its war-ravaged economy. It does not specify which countries Ukrainian grain should go to and the United Nations has stressed that it is not a commercial-humanitarian measure.

According to data from the Istanbul-based Coordination Group, which monitors the deal, 30% of cargo destined for or destined for Turkey went to low- and lower-middle-income countries.

Putin complained that another part of the deal, which eased restrictions on Russian food exporters and exporters, had not been implemented. Read More Russia’s grain exports in August will be 28% lower than the same period last year, according to a forecast by Russia’s Sovecon consultancy.

The other major global effect of the conflict was a rise in energy prices, as the West responded with sanctions and Moscow restricted gas exports to Europe, blaming Western restrictions and technical difficulties.

The European Union is poised to propose a price cap on Russian gas this winter to try to contain an energy crisis that threatens widespread hardship, with Putin threatening to cut off all supplies if such a move is made.

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“Will there be any political decisions that contradict the agreements? Yes, we will not fulfill them. We will not offer anything if it is against our interests,” Putin said.

“We don’t supply gas, oil, coal, heating oil – we don’t supply anything.”

Europe typically imports 40% of its gas and 30% of its oil from Russia.

Turkey’s Erdogan scolded the West for provoking Putin, while Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić said if Europeans hoped for military success in Ukraine, they would have to resist not the cold, but the “polar” winter. read more

Asked what Russia called its “special military operation” in Ukraine at a forum in Vladivostok, Putin said: “We have lost nothing and will not lose anything … the main gain is to strengthen our sovereignty.”

The governor of Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk region, which Russia says it seized on behalf of separatist proxies, said Tuesday that a Ukrainian counteroffensive was enjoying “some success” but avoided details.

An official from the pro-Moscow self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic said fighting was ongoing between Kharkiv and Russian-held Izyum in the eastern city of Balaklia, home to 27,000 people.

Daniel Besonov said by telegram that if the city was lost, the Russian forces in Isium would suffer in their northwest flank. Russia says it has repelled an attack in the south and has not reported any territorial losses.

Russian forces have captured the settlement of Kotema in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk region from Ukrainian forces, Russia’s Defense Ministry said.

Reuters could not independently verify the battlefield accounts.

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Reported by Reuters; By Andrew Osborne and Andrew Cawthorne; Editing by Philippa Fletcher

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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