Morning Brief

Foreign Policy’s flagship daily newsletter with what’s coming up around the world today. Delivered weekdays.

Russia’s Grain Deal Whiplash

Moscow’s sharp reversal underscores the uncertainty that has shrouded the fragile agreement ever since it was implemented.

By , a reporter at Foreign Policy.
The Marshall Islands flagged a bulk carrier carrying corn from Ukraine.
The Marshall Islands flagged a bulk carrier carrying corn from Ukraine.
The Marshall Islands flagged bulk carrier Kavo Perdika, carrying 54,160 metric tons of corn from Ukraine, after being held at the entrance of the Bosporus due to Russia pulling out of the Black Sea Grain Initiative in Istanbul on Nov. 2. Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Welcome to today’s Morning Brief, where we’re looking at Russia’s grain deal whiplash, a truce in Ethiopia’s civil war, and North Korean-Russian ties.

If you would like to receive Morning Brief in your inbox every weekday, please sign up here.


Russia Rejoins Black Sea Grain Deal

Welcome to today’s Morning Brief, where we’re looking at Russia’s grain deal whiplash, a truce in Ethiopia’s civil war, and North Korean-Russian ties.

If you would like to receive Morning Brief in your inbox every weekday, please sign up here.


Russia Rejoins Black Sea Grain Deal

In an abrupt reversal, Russia announced that it would rejoin the Black Sea Grain Initiative on Wednesday, just days after its withdrawal from the landmark deal sparked global criticism and fueled fears about its fate. 

Moscow’s sharp U-turn underscores the extreme uncertainty that has shrouded the fragile agreement ever since it was implemented in July. Almost 75 percent of Ukraine’s agricultural exports pass through the Black Sea, but Russia’s naval blockade prevented key agricultural commodities from leaving the country, thereby driving up global food prices and intensifying food insecurity.

Enter the United Nations- and Turkey-brokered grain deal, which enables exports and has helped relieve pressures on more than 345 million people currently confronting food insecurity, especially those living in import-dependent countries. With the agreement in place, Ukraine has been able to export more than 9.5 million metric tons of wheat, corn, barley, and other key commodities.

But Russia has long threatened to leave the deal, and Ukrainian officials have accused Moscow of intentionally delaying ships to sabotage the agreement. Over the weekend, the Kremlin withdrew from the agreement after accusing Ukraine of targeting its civilian and military ships in the sea; Ukraine has, in turn, accused Russia of launching attacks from its vessels in the Black Sea

Moscow’s withdrawal drew sharp criticism and concern from world leaders, who urged it to continue its participation in the deal. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said the Kremlin was using a “false pretext” to walk away from the agreement. 

“We have warned of Russia’s plans to ruin the Black Sea Grain Initiative,” he tweeted. “Now Moscow uses a false pretext to block the grain corridor which ensures food security for millions of people.”

Even after Russia announced it was withdrawing from the deal over the weekend, three ships left Ukrainian ports on Tuesday. On Wednesday, Russian officials said Kyiv had provided sufficient guarantees for it to rejoin the agreement, but they warned that Russia could still leave.


What We’re Following Today

Ethiopia’s diplomatic breakthrough. Negotiators from the Ethiopian government and Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) signed a truce to cease fighting on Wednesday, the result of 10 days of negotiations in South Africa. For nearly two years, the brutal war between the two parties has killed as many as half a million people and plunged millions of civilians into a dire humanitarian crisis. 

“It is very much a welcome first step, which we hope can start to bring some solace to the millions of Ethiopian civilians that have really suffered during this conflict,” said U.N. spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric.

North Korean-Russian ties. North Korea has secretly sent “thousands” of artillery shells to Russia, the White House said, as the Kremlin attempts to strengthen its military campaign in Ukraine. To conceal its shipments, Pyongyang reportedly moved the weapons through other nations in the Middle East and North Africa.

“Our indications are [North Korea] is covertly supplying, and we’re going to monitor to see whether shipments are received,” said John Kirby, the White House’s national security spokesperson. 


Keep an Eye On

Canada’s immigration policy. Canada has pledged to add 1.45 million immigrants to its population by 2025 to bolster its labor force. Immigrants now comprise 23 percent of the country’s population, according to census data.

“Look, folks, it’s simple to me: Canada needs more people,” said Sean Fraser, the Canadian immigration minister. “Canadians understand the need to continue to grow our population if we’re going to meet the needs of the labor force, if we’re going to rebalance a worrying demographic trend, and if we’re going to continue to reunite families.”

Tehran’s protest response. Iranian Ayatollah Ali Khamenei appeared to soften his rhetoric toward the country’s young protesters on Wednesday, saying they “are our own kids, and we don’t have any dispute with them.” He instead continued to blame Western countries for directing the protests and engaging in acts of “hybrid warfare,” the Wall Street Journal reported.



Odds and Ends

In their latest mission to fight crime, Captain America, Spider-Man, Black Widow, and Thor united for a drug bust in Lima, Peru, over the weekend. The superheroes—actually four Peruvian police in disguise—uncovered more than 3,000 cocaine paste packages and arrested four people. Since they were dressed like superheroes, the suspects originally believed they were being pranked for Halloween, officials said. 

Christina Lu is a reporter at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @christinafei

Join the Conversation

Commenting on this and other recent articles is just one benefit of a Foreign Policy subscription.

Already a subscriber? .

Join the Conversation

Join the conversation on this and other recent Foreign Policy articles when you subscribe now.

Not your account?

Join the Conversation

Please follow our comment guidelines, stay on topic, and be civil, courteous, and respectful of others’ beliefs.

You are commenting as .

More from Foreign Policy

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a commission on military-technical cooperation with foreign states in 2017.
Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a commission on military-technical cooperation with foreign states in 2017.

What’s the Harm in Talking to Russia? A Lot, Actually.

Diplomacy is neither intrinsically moral nor always strategically wise.

Officers with the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) wait outside an apartment in Kharkiv oblast, Ukraine.
Officers with the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) wait outside an apartment in Kharkiv oblast, Ukraine.

Ukraine Has a Secret Resistance Operating Behind Russian Lines

Modern-day Ukrainian partisans are quietly working to undermine the occupation.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron wave as they visit the landmark Brandenburg Gate illuminated in the colors of the Ukrainian flag in Berlin on May 9, 2022.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron wave as they visit the landmark Brandenburg Gate illuminated in the colors of the Ukrainian flag in Berlin on May 9, 2022.

The Franco-German Motor Is on Fire

The war in Ukraine has turned Europe’s most powerful countries against each other like hardly ever before.

U.S. President Joe Biden holds a semiconductor during his remarks before signing an executive order on the economy in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, D.C.
U.S. President Joe Biden holds a semiconductor during his remarks before signing an executive order on the economy in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, D.C.

How the U.S.-Chinese Technology War Is Changing the World

Washington’s crackdown on technology access is creating a new kind of global conflict.