Russia said on Wednesday that it was rejoining a deal that allows the shipment of grain from Ukrainian ports through the Black Sea, easing days of uncertainty over an agreement that had offered hope to countries facing severe food shortages.
Moscow, which suspended its participation in the deal over the weekend, said it had received an assurance from the Ukrainian government that it would not use the civilian shipments for “military operations against the Russian Federation,” Tass, the Russian state-run news agency, reported.
Moscow had suspended its participation over the weekend after an attack on Russian naval ships in Crimea that it blamed on Ukraine. Moscow claimed, without evidence, that the attack showed that the waters being used to transport grain were unsafe.
The status of the deal — brokered by Turkey and the United Nations this summer — had been uncertain for days, although some previously authorized shipments continued through Tuesday.
Amir M. Abdulla, a U.N. official coordinating the shipments, said on Twitter on Tuesday that he expected the ships to start leaving again on Thursday, without elaborating.
President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia had left the door open to resuming the agreement, telling reporters this week, “We are not saying that we are ceasing our participation in this operation.” Analysts said Russia had also raised objections over its inability to export large amounts of its own agricultural goods, as the agreement allows, because buyers were wary of violating Western sanctions restricting trade with Moscow.
On Tuesday, Tass reported that Mr. Putin had told the Turkish president in a telephone call that he wanted a “detailed investigation” of the attack on the Russian fleet and “real guarantees” that Kyiv would not use agreed-upon Black Sea grain corridors for military purposes. “Only after that it would be possible to consider the resumption of the ‘Black Sea initiative,’” Mr. Putin said in a news release.
Moscow’s stance provoked a rebuke from the United States.
Ned Price, a spokesman for the State Department, said on Tuesday that Russia’s suspension of the deal had “had an immediate impact on global food prices” and that ships in Black Sea ports were “loaded” and “ready to go,” including one with wheat intended for emergency response in the Horn of Africa, where a famine is building in Somalia.
“Any decision by the Kremlin to disrupt this initiative is essentially a statement that Moscow doesn’t care,” Mr. Price said. “Moscow doesn’t care if the world goes hungry. Moscow doesn’t care if people starve. Moscow doesn’t care if the world’s food insecurity crisis is compounded.”
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, whose country brokered the deal along with the United Nations, had expressed confidence after speaking with Mr. Putin on Tuesday that differences over the grain deal could be resolved, according to a statement from the Turkish leader’s office.
Three cargo ships carrying corn, wheat and sunflower oil left Ukrainian ports on Tuesday and were traveling south toward Istanbul, according to VesselFinder.com and Ismini Palla, a U.N. spokeswoman. She said that the Russian authorities had been notified of the departures.
Safak Timur contributed reporting.