By Athena Papakosta

A double strike early Monday on the bridge linking the Moscow-annexed Crimean peninsula with Russia forced Russian authorities to close Putin’s pride project for the second time in less than a year. The damage suffered in a part of it is serious after the two explosions that occurred in it early on Monday killing two people and injuring their 14-year-old daughter.

The Russian president asked for security measures to be strengthened in this, stressing that “this is the second terrorist attack on the Crimean bridge” and that he “expects concrete proposals to improve security”. At the same time, Vladimir Putin explained that Moscow is going to respond to this “terrorist act”. The Russian side points to Ukraine but Kiev has not claimed responsibility.

A few hours after the strikes on the Crimean bridge came the expected no of Russia regarding the renewal of the agreement on the export of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea. As the Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, explained, “unfortunately, the part of the agreements concerning Russia has been implemented so far, so its validity is terminated” to add that “once the Russian part of the agreements is fulfilled, the Russian side will return to implementation of the agreement”.

Moscow is demanding that restrictions on Russian fertilizer and grain exports be lifted, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says he is optimistic that his Russian counterpart wants the agreement to continue. “I believe that my friend, the president of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, wants to continue the humanitarian agreement,” he said, adding that he would discuss the agreement with him in August during their planned meeting.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative is an agreement that allowed Ukraine to export millions of tons of grain safely from its ports – in Odessa, Chornomorsk, Yuzhny – while the war is in full swing. It remains of critical importance as it has contributed both to the avoidance of starvation in vulnerable areas of the planet and to the de-escalation of food costs. Now, the market is bracing for food increases of 5 and 10% fueling inflation in many of the world’s economies.

The White House called Moscow’s move irresponsible and dangerous, while the European Union called it “cynical”. In particular, the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, added that the EU will continue to work for the food security of poor countries. Earlier, Berlin appealed again to Russia to make possible the extension of the agreement.

For its part, Kiev, according to the press representative of the Ukrainian presidency, emphasizes that “even without the Russian Federation, everything possible must be done to be able to use the Black Sea corridor. We are not afraid.”

But the world community is worried about a food nightmare with the representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Maria Zakharova, underlining that Moscow has informed Ukraine, Turkey and the UN, while the Kremlin notes that Russia’s decision to suspend its participation in the agreement on the grain is not connected to the attack on the Crimean bridge.