Russia suspends Ukrainian Black Sea grain exports, citing attack on Crimea


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Russia on Saturday suspended its participation in a UN-brokered Black Sea grain deal after what it called a major Ukrainian drone attack on its fleet in Crimea, dealing a blow to attempts to mitigate the global food crisis.

Russia’s Defense Ministry said Ukraine attacked the Black Sea Fleet near Sevastopol on the annexed Crimean Peninsula with 16 drones in the early hours of Saturday, and British Navy ‘specialists’ helped to coordinate the “terrorist” attack.

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Russia said it repelled the attack, with just minor damage to a minesweeper, but the targeted ships were involved in securing the grain corridor out of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports.

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“The Russian side is suspending its participation in the implementation of agreements on the export of agricultural products from Ukrainian ports,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement.

Russia said the move, which will reduce Ukrainian grain exports from its crucial Black Sea ports, was taken due to the drone attack and the involvement of British specialists.

Britain said on Saturday that Russian claims, including that British navy personnel blew up Nord Stream pipelines last month, were false and aimed to distract from Russian military failures in Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s chief of staff Andriy Yermak accused Russia of fabricating “fictitious terrorist attacks against its own facilities”, while Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Moscow was using a “false pretext “to frustrate the deal.

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“I call on all states to demand that Russia end its hunger games and renew its obligations,” Kuleba said.

The UN-brokered grain deal is crucial for food markets: it allows the export of grain from Ukraine, one of the world’s largest grain exporters, which the Russian invasion had brought to a halt.

“HUNGER GAMES”

Since Russia and Ukraine signed the UN-backed Black Sea Grain Initiative in Turkey on July 22, more than 9 million tons of corn, wheat, sunflower products, barley, rapeseed and soybeans were exported from Ukraine.

But before the November 19 expiration of the grain deal, which allows Ukrainian exports of Black Sea grain, Russia has repeatedly said there are serious problems. Western officials say all Ukrainian exports are helping to ease the food crisis.

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Russia will officially notify UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres shortly of its suspension of the Ukrainian Black Sea grain deal, Russia’s Deputy Ambassador to the UN Dmitry Polyanskiy said.

The UN is in contact with Russian authorities about the situation, a UN spokesperson said.

United Nations aid chief Martin Griffiths said on Wednesday he was “relatively optimistic” about extending the deal beyond mid-November.

“Although prices in Western markets have been reduced, Russia has gained nothing from this deal,” said Turan Oguz, a Turkish defense analyst. “I think the main reason for Russia’s withdrawal is Western indifference towards Russia.”

Just 24 hours before Russia suspended its participation in the deal, a spokesman for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called on the parties to renew the pact.

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“We underscore the urgency of doing so to contribute to global food security and to cushion the suffering this global cost of living crisis is inflicting on billions of people,” the UN spokesperson said. , Stephane Dujarric.

Dujarric said “governments, shipping companies, grain and fertilizer traders and farmers around the world” were seeking clarity on the future of the deal.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said that following the attacks on the Russian fleet, “the Russian side cannot guarantee the safety of civilian dry cargo ships participating in the ‘Black Sea Initiative’ and is suspending its implementation. work from today for an indefinite period.

Russian Agriculture Minister Dmitry Patrushev said earlier on Saturday that Russia was ready to provide up to 500,000 tonnes of grain to poor countries for free over the next four months, with help from Turkey, and displace Ukrainian grain supplies.

“Considering this year’s harvest, the Russian Federation is fully ready to replace Ukrainian cereals and deliver supplies at affordable prices to all interested countries,” he said. (Writing by Guy Faulconbridge, reporting by Reuters reporters; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne, Frances Kerry and Christina Fincher)

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