KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russia announced Saturday it will immediately suspend its implementation of a U.N. grain deal that has seen more than 9 million tons of grain exported from Ukraine during the war and has reduced rising global food prices. Ukraine accused Russia of creating “hunger games” in the world.
The Russian Defense Ministry cited an alleged Ukrainian drone strike on Saturday against Russian Black Sea Fleet ships docked off the coast of occupied Crimea as the reason for the move. Ukraine has denied the attack, saying Russia mishandled its own weapons.
The Russian statement came a day after UN chief Antonio Guterres called on Russia and Ukraine to renew the grain export agreement, which was due to expire on November 19. Guterres also called on other countries, mainly in the West, to speed up the removal of barriers that have been impeding. Russian grain and fertilizer exports.
The UN chief said the grain deal – brokered by the UN and Turkey in July – would help “relieve the suffering this global food crisis is causing billions of people”, his spokesman said.
United Nations officials were in contact with Russian authorities regarding the announced suspension.
“It is important that all parties avoid any action that would jeopardize the Black Sea Grain Initiative, a vital humanitarian effort that is clearly having a positive impact on access to food for millions of people,” said Guterres spokesman Stephane Dujarric. .
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the Russian move was predictable. He accused Moscow of “blocking” ships carrying grain since September. Currently, he said, 176 ships are supported at sea and carry more than 2 million tons of food.
“This is a transparent attempt by Russia to turn back the threat of large-scale famine in Africa and Asia,” Zelenskyy said on Saturday in his evening video address. He called for a strong response against Russia from international organizations such as the UN and the G-20.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba accused Russia of playing “hunger games” by jeopardizing food shipments.
The Russian Foreign Ministry on Saturday accused British experts of taking part in an alleged drone attack on Russian ships in Crimea. Britain’s Ministry of Defense had no immediate comment on the claim.
“In connection with the actions of the Ukrainian forces, led by British experts, they targeted, among other things, Russian ships that ensure the operation of the mentioned humanitarian corridor (which cannot be defined otherwise than as a terrorist attack). side cannot guarantee the safety of civilian dry cargo ships participating in the Black Sea project and suspends its implementation from today for an indefinite period,” the Russian statement said.
Ukraine’s infrastructure ministry said Ukraine had never threatened the Black Sea grain corridor, which “is purely humanitarian in nature,” and would continue to try to keep shipments going. It says that since the first ship left Odesa on August 1, more than 9 million tons of food have been exported, of which more than 5 million tons went to African and Asian countries. As part of the United Nations Food Program, she said, 190 thousand tons of wheat have been sent to countries where hunger prevails.
Russia also requested a meeting of the UN Security Council on Monday over the alleged attack on the Black Sea Fleet and the security of the grain corridor, said Dmitry Polyansky, Russia’s first deputy UN representative.
The Russian agriculture minister said Moscow was ready to “completely replace Ukrainian grain and deliver supplies to all interested countries at an affordable price.” Commenting on state television channel Rossiya 24, Dmitry Patrushev said Moscow was ready to “provide up to 500,000 tons of grain to the poorest countries free of charge in the next four months,” with Turkey’s help.
Earlier on Saturday, Ukraine and Russia offered different versions of the drone strike in Crimea that damaged at least one Russian ship in Sevastopol, a key port on the Ukrainian peninsula annexed by Moscow in 2014.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said a minesweeper sustained “minor damage” in an alleged pre-dawn attack by Ukraine on naval and civilian ships docked in Sevastopol, home to the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. The ministry claimed that Russian forces had “repulsed” 16 attack drones.
The governor of the Sevastopol region, Mikhail Razvozhaev, claimed the port had come under a “massive attack” from aerial and naval drones. He offered no evidence and said the entire video would be seized for security reasons.
But an adviser to Ukraine’s Interior Ministry claimed that “negligent handling of explosives” had caused the explosions on four warships in Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. Anton Gerashchenko wrote on Telegram that the ships included a frigate, a landing craft and a ship carrying cruise missiles used in a deadly attack on a city in western Ukraine in July.
In other developments on Saturday, Russian troops evacuated large numbers of sick and wounded comrades from hospitals in Ukraine’s southern Kherson region. and stripped of medical facilities, Ukrainian officials said as their forces battled to retake the province.
Kremlin authorities in the largely Russian-held region have urged civilians to leave the regional capital city of Kherson – reportedly joining the tens of thousands who have fled to other Russian-held areas.
Zelenskyy said Russia was “demolishing the entire health system” in Kherson and other occupied territories.
“The residents have decided to close medical facilities in cities, take away equipment, ambulances. just everything,” said Zelenskyy.
Kherson is one of the four regions of Ukraine under Russian President Vladimir Putin illegally annexed last month and where he subsequently declared martial law. The others are Donetsk, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia.
As Kyiv’s forces sought gains in the south, Russia continued shelling and rocket attacks in the east. Three more civilians were killed and eight more wounded in the Donetsk region as Russian troops try to capture the city of Bakhmut, a key target in Russia’s stalled offensive in the east.
Russian shelling also hit an industrial building in southern Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia region.
In the latest prisoner exchange, 50 Ukrainian soldiers, including two former defenders of the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, and two civilians were released on Saturday as part of a swap with Russia, which received 50 Russian soldiers, both sides said from
This version has been corrected to show that the Russian Defense Ministry said one ship, not two, suffered minor damage in a port in Crimea.
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