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Russia says it will suspend UN-brokered Ukrainian grain export deal

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russia announced on Saturday that it will suspend its implementation of a UN-brokered grain deal that saw more than 9 million tons of grain exported from Ukraine during the war and drove down world food prices.

The Russian Defense Ministry cited an alleged Ukrainian drone attack on Russian Black Sea Fleet ships moored off the coast of occupied Crimea, which Russia says took place early Saturday, as the reason for the this decision. Ukraine has denied the attack, saying the Russians mishandled their own weapons.

The Russian statement came a day after UN chief Antonio Guterres urged Russia and Ukraine to renew the grain export deal. António Guterres also urged other, mainly Western, countries to speed up the removal of obstacles blocking Russian grain and fertilizer exports.

The UN chief said the grains deal – brokered by the United Nations and Turkey in July and which expires on November 19 – helps “alleviate the suffering that this global cost of living crisis is inflicting on billions of people,” his spokesperson. said.

A spokesperson for Guterres said UN officials were in contact with Russian authorities about the announced suspension.

“It is vital that all parties refrain from any action that would 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,” spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry on Saturday accused British specialists of involvement in the alleged drone attack on Russian ships in Crimea.

“As part of the actions of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, led by British specialists, directed, inter alia, against Russian ships operating the humanitarian corridor in question (which cannot be qualified otherwise than as a terrorist attack), the forces The Russian side cannot guarantee the safety of civilian dry cargo vessels participating in the Black Sea Initiative and suspends its implementation from today for an indefinite period,” the Russian statement read.

Howitzers from the 53rd Mechanized Brigade fire at Russian points in Bakhmut, Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine on October 28.

Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The UK Ministry of Defense had no immediate comment.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has accused Russia of playing “hunger games” by jeopardizing global food shipments.

“We warned against Russia’s plans to destroy (the grain deal). Now, under false pretenses, Moscow is blocking the grain corridor that provides food security for millions of people,” he tweeted on Saturday.

The head of Ukraine’s presidential office, Andriy Yermak, denounced the suspension as “primitive blackmail”.

Turkish officials said they had not received any official notification of the suspension of the agreement.

Russia’s agriculture minister said Moscow was ready to “completely replace Ukrainian grain and deliver supplies at affordable prices to all interested countries.” In remarks broadcast by the state-run Rossiya 24 TV channel, Dmitry Patrushev said that Moscow was ready to “provide up to 500,000 tons of grain for free to the poorest countries over the next four months”, with the help from Turkey.

Patrushev also reiterated previous Kremlin allegations that a disproportionate volume of grain exported from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports was destined for European destinations.

Earlier on Saturday, Ukraine and Russia offered different versions of the Crimean drone attack in which at least one Russian vessel was damaged in the Ukrainian peninsula port annexed by Moscow in 2014.

Russia’s Defense Ministry says a minesweeper suffered ‘minor damage’ in an alleged pre-dawn Ukrainian attack on navy and civilian ships moored in Sevastopol, which is home to the military’s headquarters. the Russian Black Sea Fleet. The ministry claimed that Russian forces had “repelled” 16 attacking drones.

Sevastopol region governor Mikhail Razvozhaev said the port had seen “probably the most massive attack” by air and sea drones. He offered no evidence, saying all videos from the area would be withheld for security reasons.

But an adviser to Ukraine’s Interior Ministry claimed “reckless handling of explosives” caused 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 July attack on a town in western Ukraine.

In other developments on Saturday, Russian troops moved large numbers of sick and injured comrades from hospitals in the Kherson region of southern Ukraine and stripped the facilities of their medical equipment, officials said. Ukrainians as their forces fought to retake the province.

Russia says it will suspend UN-brokered Ukrainian grain export deal
Local residents line up waiting for free bread from volunteers on October 28 in Bakhmut, the site of the toughest battle against Russian troops in Ukraine’s Donetsk region.

Efrem Lukatsky via Associated Press

Kremlin-installed authorities in the mostly Russian-occupied region had earlier urged civilians to leave the region’s capital city of Kherson – and reportedly joined the tens of thousands who fled to other controlled areas by Russia.

“The so-called evacuation of invaders from the temporarily occupied territory of the Kherson region, including medical institutions, continues,” the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the Russians were “dismantling the whole health system” in Kherson and other occupied areas.

“The occupiers have decided to close the medical establishments in the cities, to take away equipment, ambulances. just everything,” Zelenskyy said.

Kherson is one of four regions in Ukraine that Russian President Vladimir Putin illegally annexed last month and later declared martial law. The others are Donetsk, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia.

As Kyiv forces sought to gain ground in the south, Russia continued its shelling and missile attacks in the east of the country, Ukrainian authorities said on Saturday. Three other civilians died and eight others were injured in the Donetsk region, which has again become a frontline hotspot as Russian soldiers attempt to capture the town of Bakhmut, a key target in the stalled Russian offensive .

The Russians also bombed an industrial building in the Zaporizhzhia region in southern 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 defenders of the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, were released on Saturday in an exchange with Russia, according to Yermak. The steelworks of this bombed-out port city now symbolize Ukrainian resistance.

Also freed, he said, was a sailor who was defending Snake Island in Ukraine, a strategic Black Sea outpost seized by Russia in the early hours of the war. Others returning home were Ukrainian soldiers captured by Moscow near the Chernobyl nuclear power plant – the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster in 1986 – which Russian forces briefly occupied from February to March.

The Huffington Gt

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