Russia halts grain deal after attack on Black Sea fleet
Russia pulled out of a key grain deal brokered by the UN and Turkey, accusing Ukraine of a drone attack on the Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol, Crimea.
Russia's defense ministry said drones used in Saturday's attack targeted ships involved in the grain deal. It said one vessel had received minor damage.
Hours later, a statement by the foreign ministry in Moscow said: "The Russian side cannot guarantee the safety of civilian dry cargo ships participating in the 'Black Sea Initiative', and suspends its implementation from today for an indefinite period."
It said the move was "in connection with the actions of the Ukrainian armed forces, which were led by British specialists" and that these actions "were directed... against Russian ships that ensured the functioning of the said humanitarian corridor".
Ukrainian President Zelenskyy said Russia's decision was not one that had been made today, but in September "when it blocked the movement of ships with our food produce".
"Why is it that some handful of individuals somewhere in the Kremlin can decide whether there will be food on the tables of people in Egypt or in Bangladesh?" he added.
However, Russia claimed on Friday that only 3% of food exported under a U.N.-brokered deal to release grain from blockaded Ukrainian ports has gone to the poorest countries, with Western countries accounting for half of all shipments.
Russia is ready to supply up to 500,000 tonnes of grain free of charge to poor countries in the next four months, with assistance from Turkey, TASS news agency cited Agriculture Minister Dmitry Patrushev as saying on Saturday.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Saturday that US authorities regret Russia’s decision to suspend its participation in the grain deal and call on all sides to support this initiative.
Since Russia and Ukraine signed the U.N.-backed Black Sea Grain Initiative in Turkey on July 22, several million tonnes of corn, wheat, sunflower products, barley, rapeseed and soya have been exported from Ukraine.