A chorus of international condemnation rang out on Sunday over Russia’s sudden decision to end participation in a grain export deal with Ukraine amid fears of a global food crisis.
The Russian Defense Ministry, citing an alleged Ukrainian drone attack on Russia’s Black Sea Fleet off the coast of occupied Crimea, announced the suspension on Saturday. Ukraine has denied the attack, accusing Russia of mismanaging its own weapons.
European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell Fontelles implored Russia to reconsider the decision. “The EU urges Russia to reconsider its decision” he tweeted on Sunday.
President Joe Biden weighed in on Saturday, calling the decision “outrageous” and expressing concern that world hunger could increase. “There is no merit in what they are doing. The UN brokered this deal and that should be the end of it,” he said.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken accused Russia of “again militarizing food in the war it unleashed, directly impacting low- and middle-income countries and global food prices and exacerbating humanitarian crises and a already serious food insecurity”.
The suspension had an immediate impact: a ship carrying 40,000 tonnes of grain bound for Ethiopia was unable to leave Ukraine on Sunday, said Oleksandr Kubrakov, Ukraine’s infrastructure minister.
More than 9 million tonnes of grain in 397 ships have safely left Ukrainian ports since the agreement was signed in July after much wrangling. The deal, which was due for renewal at the end of November, has lowered global food prices, which have fallen about 15% from their peak in March, according to the United Nations.
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►Russia on Monday called for a UN Security Council meeting over the alleged attack on the Black Sea Fleet, said Dmitry Polyansky, Russia’s first deputy representative to the UN
► Russian missiles killed at least five people and injured nine, according to the office of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Russia is trying to seize the town of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine, and several villages in the area have been bombed.
► Ukraine and Russia carried out another prisoner exchange which freed 52 Ukrainian citizens, Andriy Yermak, Ukrainian presidential chief of staff, said on Telegram.
The Russians would have emptied the hospitals of Kherson
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in an overnight video address Friday that the Russians were “dismantling the entire health system” in Kherson and other occupied areas.
“The occupiers decided to close medical institutions in cities, withdraw equipment, ambulances. Just everything,” Zelenskyy said. “They put pressure on the doctors who still remained in the occupied areas to move to the territory of Russia.”
Kherson is one of four regions in Ukraine that Russian President Vladimir Putin illegally annexed last month and where he declared martial law. The others are Donetsk, Lugansk and Zaporizhzhia.
Contribute: The Associated Press