Ukraine’s grain trade across the Black Sea was halted on Sunday after Russia suspended an agreement on grain exports from Ukrainian ports vital to the world’s food supply. in a decision harshly criticized by Kiev and Washington.
Moscow justified the suspension of its participation in a massive drone strike that targeted military and civilian ships of its Black Sea fleet stationed in Sevastopol Bay on Saturday morning. in Crimea.
However, Ukraine condemned this “false argument” and called for pressure on Russia to “commit itself again to its obligations” under this agreement concluded last July under the auspices of the United Nations and Turkey and the unique between Moscow and Kiev since the beginning of the conflict.
The Joint Coordination Center in charge of overseeing the implementation of the agreement confirmed that no movement of merchant ships carrying Ukrainian grain in the Black Sea was recorded on Sunday. On Saturday, nine merchant ships were in able to use the sea route in the Black Sea and “more than ten (ships)” are ready for it in both directions.
In his daily video speech onlineUkrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stressed that the Russian decision “is not just for today. Russia began exacerbating the global food crisis in September, when it began to stop the movement of ships carrying our agricultural products”.
“It is Russia’s clear intention to once again wave the fear of hunger on a large scale in Africa and in Asia, “he added. He said Moscow has suspended the movement of at least 176 ships so far.
He stressed the need for a “rigorous international response at the United Nations level, in detail of the G20 “.
US President Joe Biden said on Saturday that Russia’s decision to withdraw from the agreement allowing the export of grain from Ukraine was “shameful”.
“There is no reason for them to do it,” he added speaking to reporters.
As for US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, he said: “By suspending the deal, Russia is once again using food as a weapon in its war, which has direct repercussions on low-income countries and global food prices and of fuels humanitarian crises and essentially dangerous food insecurity “.
Putin intensifies his criticism
The agreement concluded in July, under the auspices of the United Nations and Turkey, has allowed the export of millions of tons of grain blocked in Ukrainian ports since the beginning of the conflict in Briar. This freeze caused a significant increase in food prices, raising fears of famine.
The United Nations called for the maintenance of the wheat export agreement and Secretary General Stephane Dujarric’s spokesman said: “It is imperative that all parties refrain from any action that could jeopardize the Sea Grain Agreement. Black “, underlining that this agreement has a” positive impact “in guaranteeing food for millions of people in different parts of the world.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has stepped up his criticisms of the deal in recent weeks, noting that exports from Russia, a major grain producer, have been hit by sanctions.
Moscow justified the suspension of the agreement by attaching marches to Russian ships in the Gulf of Sevastopol in Crimea, annexed to Moscow.
“In view of the terrorist act carried out by the Kiev regime with the participation of British experts against the ships of the Black Sea fleet and civilian ships engaged (to guarantee) the safety of the (transport) corridors of grain, Russia suspends the its participation in the implementation of the agreement on exports of agricultural products from ports, “the Russian Defense Ministry told Telegram. Ukrainian”.
The British Ministry of Defense called the allegations “false accusations “by Moscow aimed at” diverting attention “.
Russian authorities say the attack took place in prime Saturday morning hours, with “nine drones and seven naval drones”, which caused “minor damage” to a swept ship via.
Crimea, which Russia annexed in March 2014, serves as the headquarters of Moscow’s Black Sea fleet and as a logistical base for the invasion of Ukraine. Military and civilian structures have been targeted multiple times in recent months.
“The preparation for this terrorist act and the training of soldiers in the 73rd Ukrainian Center for Special Naval Operations were carried out by British specialists based in Ochakov, in the Ukrainian Mykolaiv region,” the Russian Defense Ministry wrote on Telegram. .
London has also been accused of being involved in the explosions that destroyed the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines carrying Russian gas into the Baltic Sea in September.
“Russia has repeatedly called for a joint investigation into the attacks (…) Western countries’ rejection of this proposal confirms that they have something to hide,” he said in a note was the spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova.
The British Ministry of Defense condemned what it called a “fabricated story” by Russia aimed at “diverting attention from its disastrous handling of the illegal invasion of Ukraine”.
aggravate the problems
Shortly before announcing the suspension of the grain agreement, the Russian Agriculture Minister again criticized the text in television, accusing EU countries of monopolizing Ukrainian exports that should go to poor countries. The coordination center located in Turkey has previously denied these allegations.
“Unfortunately, the wheat deal has not solved the problems of countries in need, but it has also exacerbated them in to some extent, “said Dmitry Patrushev.
On the southern front of Ukraine, AFP reporters recorded an exchange of artillery shells in the city of Kobzartsy, the last one before the line of contact with the Russians.
“Things could go wrong here. But we know they suffer more than we do,” said Oleksiy, a Ukrainian soldier, who is about 20 years old.
The two parts in this area are preparing for the battle of Kherson, the capital of the region, from which the occupation authorities have evacuated tens of thousands of civilians in an operation defined by Ukraine as a “deportation”.
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