Russia will suspend its participation in the United Nations-brokered grain export deal with Ukraine after drone attacks on the Crimean city of Sevastopol, the country’s defense ministry said on Saturday.
Moscow accuses Kyiv of being responsible for the attacks. CNN cannot independently verify Russia’s report, and Ukraine has yet to acknowledge the incident.
“In view of the act of terrorism committed by the Kyiv regime with the participation of British experts on October 29 this year against ships of the Black Sea Fleet and civilian ships involved in the security of the ‘grain corridor ‘, the Russian side is suspending its participation in the implementation of agreements on the export of agricultural products from Ukrainian ports,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement.
The UK has denied Moscow’s claim that Britain helped Ukraine plan the Crimean drone attacks, saying Russia was “peddling misrepresentations on an epic scale”.
A bit of context: In July, after months of negotiations, Ukrainian and Russian ministers signed a UN-brokered agreement with Turkey. Russia has pledged to unblock Black Sea ports to allow the safe passage of grains and oilseeds – some of Ukraine’s most important exports.
The deal is due to expire next month and Moscow officials have cast doubt on whether they will extend their participation.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday there was “a lot of work” to be done before the deal could be renewed. Putin also weighed in, saying Moscow would close export corridors if they were used to carry out “terrorist attacks”.
Despite this, Ukraine’s infrastructure minister expressed optimism about the deal earlier this month, saying “there is no doubt that the grain corridor will continue to operate after November 22,” the date when it should expire.
The World Food Program has estimated that tens of millions have entered a phase of acute hunger as a result of the war in Ukraine, and Western officials have accused Russia of using food as a weapon during its invasion.