Russia announced Saturday that it will take steps to lay off the implementation of a grain agreement negotiated by the UN which has made it possible to export more than 9 million tons of grain from Ukraine during the war and has caused world food prices to plummet.
The Russian Ministry of Defense cited an alleged Ukrainian drone attack on Russian Black Sea Fleet ships moored off the coast of the crimea occupied, which according to Russia took place early on Saturday, as the reason for the measure. Ukraine has denied the attack, saying the Russians mishandled their own weapons.
The Russian statement came a day after the UN chief Antonio Guterres urge Russia and Ukraine to renew the agreement on grain export. Guterres also urged other countries, mainly in the West, to speed up the removal of obstacles that block Russian exports of cereals and fertilizers.
The UN chief said the grain deal, brokered by the United Nations and Turkey in July and which expires on November 19, helps “cushion the suffering that this global cost-of-living crisis is inflicting on billions of people”said his spokesman.
A Guterres spokesman said UN officials were in contact with Russian authorities about the announced suspension.
“It is vital that all parties refrain from any action that could jeopardize the Black Sea Grains Initiative, which is a critical humanitarian effort that is clearly having a positive impact on access to food for millions of people.”said the spokesman, Stephane Dujarric.
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The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Saturday accused British specialists of being involved in the alleged attack on drones to Russian ships in Crimea.
“In connection with the actions of the Ukrainian armed forces, led by British specialists, directed, among other things, against the Russian ships that ensure the operation of the humanitarian corridor in question (which cannot be qualified in any other way than a terrorist attack) , the Russian Federation side cannot guarantee the safety of civilian dry cargo ships participating in the Black Sea initiative, and suspends its implementation as of today for an indefinite period”He said release Russian.
The British Ministry of Defense he did not immediately comment.
The Foreign Minister of Ukraine Dmytro Kulebaaccused Russia of playing “The Hunger Games” by jeopardizing global food shipments.
“We warned about Russia’s plans to destroy the (grains deal). Now, under false pretenses, Moscow is blocking the grain corridor that guarantees food security for millions of people.” he tweeted on Saturday.
The head of the presidential office of Ukraine Andriy Yermakdenounced the suspension as a “primitive blackmail”.
Turkish officials said they have not received no official notice of the suspension of the agreement.
The Russian agriculture minister said that Moscow is ready to “completely replace Ukrainian grain and deliver supplies at affordable prices to all interested countries”. In comments issued by the channel state television Rossiya 24, Dmitry Patrushev said that Moscow was prepared for “supply up to 500 thousand tons of grain to the poorest countries for free in the next four months”with the help of Turkey.
Patrushev also reiterated earlier accusations of the Kremlin that a disproportionate volume of grain exported from Ukrainian Black Sea ports was destined for European destinations.
Early Saturday, Ukraine and Russia offered differing accounts of the drone attack in Crimea in which at least one Russian ship was damaged in the port of the Ukrainian peninsula annexed by Moscow in 2014.
The Russian Defense Ministry said a minesweeper suffered “minor damage” during a suspected pre-dawn Ukrainian attack on civilian and navy vessels docked in Sevastopol, which is home to the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. The ministry claimed that Russian forces had “repelled” 16 attacking drones.
The Governor of the Sevastopol region Mikhail Razvozhaev He said the port experienced “probably the most massive attack” by aerial and maritime drones. He provided no evidence and said all video from the area would be withheld for security reasons.
But an adviser to the Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs claimed that the “careless handling of explosives” had caused explosions on four warships in Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. Anton Gerashchenko wrote in Telegram that the ships included a frigate, a landing ship and a ship carrying cruise missiles used in a deadly July attack on a western Ukrainian city.
In other developments on Saturday, Russian troops moved a large number of sick and wounded comrades of hospitals in the Kherson region of southern Ukraine and stripped facilities of medical equipment, Ukrainian officials said as their forces fought to retake the province.
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The authorities installed by the Kremlin in the region mostly occupied by Russia they had previously urged civilians to leave the city of Kherson, the region’s capital, and reportedly joined tens of thousands who fled to other Russian-held areas.
“The so-called evacuation of invaders from the temporarily occupied territory of the Kherson region continues, including from medical institutions”said the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
The Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the Russians were “dismantling the entire health system” in Kherson and other occupied areas.
“The occupants have decided to close medical institutions in the cities, take away equipment, ambulances. just everything”Zelenskyy said.
Kherson is one of the four regions of Ukraine that the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, illegally annexed last month and where it subsequently declared martial law. the others are Donetsk, Lugansk and Zaporizhzhia.
While the forces of Kyiv seeking gains in the south, Russia kept up its bombing and missile strikes in the east of the country, Ukrainian officials said on Saturday. Three more civilians were killed and eight more were injured in the Donetsk region, which has again become a frontline flashpoint as Russian soldiers try to capture the city of Bakhmuta major target in Russia’s stalled eastern offensive.
Russian bombing also in an industrial building in the southern region of Zaporizhzhia in Ukraine. About a quarter of the region, including its capital, also called Zaporizhzhia, remains under Ukrainian military control.
In the latest prisoner exchange, 52 Ukrainians, including two former supporters of the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupolwere released on Saturday as part of an exchange with Russia, according to Yermak. The steel mills in that bombed-out port city now symbolize the Ukrainian resistance.
Also released, he said, was a sailor defending the Ukrainian Snake Island, a strategic Black Sea outpost seized by Russia in the early hours of the war. Others who returned home were Ukrainian soldiers captured by Moscow near the chernobyl Nuclear Power, the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster in 1986, which Russian forces briefly occupied from February to March.
(With information from AP)