Blinken says Russia felt world wouldn't accept refusal to extend grain deal

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken attends a handover ceremony of the APEC Ministerial Meeting chair to U.S., on the sidelines of APEC summit, in Bangkok, Thailand November 17, 2022. REUTERS/Chalinee Thirasupa

BANGKOK, Nov 17 (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Thursday that Russia agreeing to renew the Black Sea grain deal was a sign that Moscow felt the world would not accept any refusal to extend it.

The grain deal was extended earlier on Thursday.

"Together, we sent a clear message to President Putin that he should extend the Black Sea grain initiative, which was set to expire on Saturday," Blinken told a news conference in Bangkok, ahead of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.

"Russia again heard and apparently felt that the world would not accept Moscow refusing to extend the agreement."

Blinken said that through its continued offensives, Russia was ultimately responsible for the "tragic incident" where missiles landed in Poland and killed two people.

"While Russia seems to have heard the G20's message on the grain deal, President Putin continues to ignore global calls for de-escalation, choosing instead to escalate, raining down scores of missiles on infrastructure across Ukraine," he said.

NATO and Poland said the explosions were likely caused by a stray Ukrainian air defence missile, while Ukraine disputes that.

Blinken also said it was too soon to tell whether an amnesty granted to thousands of prisoners, including foreigners like Australian economist Sean Turnell and U.S. citizen Kyaw Htay Oo, says anything about the intentions of the country's military rulers.

"It is the one bright spot in what is otherwise an incredibly dark time, where we see things going from bad to worse."

Asked about possibility of the United States engaging with the junta, Blinken said: "We've seen no evidence to date that the Myanmar regime is interested in engaging."

Writing by Kanupriya Kapoor; Editing by Martin Petty

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.