The Kremlin on Thursday said a blast that damaged a pipeline once used to export Russian ammonia via Ukraine could have a “negative impact” on the fate of a Black Sea grain deal.
The Togliatti-Odesa pipeline, which once pumped up to 2.5 million tons of ammonia annually for global export to Ukraine’s Pivdennyi port on the Black Sea from Togliatti in western Russia, has been idle since the start of the war in February last year.
Russia has accused Ukrainian forces of blowing up a part of the pipeline, the world’s longest to carry ammonia, in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region on Monday. The regional Ukrainian governor said Russia had shelled the pipeline on Tuesday. Neither side provided evidence to back its allegations.
Asked by reporters about how the damage to the pipeline could affect the fate of the Black Sea grain deal, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “It can only have a negative impact.”
He described it as “yet another complication in terms of extending the deal,” adding that Russia did not know “what kind of destruction” there had been to the ammonia pipeline.
Russia has threatened to walk away from the Black Sea grain deal on July 17 if demands to improve its own food and fertilizer exports are not met. The deal, struck in July last year, facilitates the “safe navigation” of grain, foodstuffs and fertilizers — including ammonia — for export to global markets.
U.N. officials are continuing discussions with all the parties to the deal, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Thursday.
“We’re continuing our efforts through as many avenues as we can, given the importance of all of this to the fight against global hunger and ensuring that the prices of food do not spike on the global market,” Dujarric told reporters.
The United Nations and Turkey brokered the Ukraine grain Black Sea export deal to help alleviate a global food crisis worsened by conflict disrupting exports from two of the world’s leading grain suppliers.
To help persuade Russia to allow Ukraine to resume its Black Sea grain exports last year, a separate three-year agreement was also struck in July in which the United Nations agreed to help Russia with its food and fertilizer exports.
Dujarric said top U.N. trade official Rebeca Grynspan was due to meet with Russian officials in Geneva on Friday “as part of our routine contacts on our efforts to facilitate the trade in Russian fertilizer and Russian grain.”
Russian Industry and Trade minister Denis Manturov said earlier Thursday that Moscow had no access to the damaged part of the pipeline and did not expect to be granted it, the Interfax news agency reported.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Wednesday that it would take one to three months to repair the damaged section of the pipeline.