Russia announced it is withdrawing from the UN-facilitated Black Sea grain export agreement after an attack on its naval forces in Sevastopol, Crimea.
“We’ve seen the reports from the Russian Federation regarding the suspension of their participation in the Black Sea Grain Initiative following an attack on the Russian Black Sea Fleet,” Stéphane Dujarric, spokesman for the U.N. Secretary General, said in a press release Saturday morning. “We are in touch with the Russian authorities on this matter.”
“It is vital that all parties refrain from any action that would imperil the Black Sea Grain Initiative which is a critical humanitarian effort that is clearly having a positive impact on access to food for millions of people around the world,” Dujarric added.
The attack occurred at 4:20 a.m. Saturday in Sevastopol, the biggest city in Crimea, the Russian Defense Ministry wrote on Telegram. The attack involved nine aerial drones and seven maritime drones, the post said. Russia claimed it destroyed all the drones and that its fleet only suffered “minor damage.”
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Russia also claimed that the ships targeted in the attack were involved in security for the grain corridor. The United Nations worked with Russia and Ukraine, with Turkey acting as an intermediary, to establish the corridor as a means of securing vital food supplies of grain amid fears that the world could face multiple famines.
But now Moscow has suspended its participation in the deal, undermining the agreement and once again threatening global food supplies.
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“Taking into account… the terrorist act by the Kyiv regime with the participation of British experts against the ships of the Black Sea Fleet and civilian vessels involved in ensuring the security of the ‘grain corridor’, the Russian side suspends participation in the implementation of agreements on the export of agricultural products from Ukrainian ports,” the ministry said in a statement.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s chief of staff Andriy Yermak accused Russia of “blackmail” and “invented terror attacks” on its own territory, Reuters reported.
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Russian officials called the attack “terrorism” and accused “British specialists” of coordinating and helping execute the attack.
“The preparation of this terrorist act and the training of military personnel of 73rd Marine Special Operations Center were carried out under supervision of British specialists in the city of Ochakov, Nikolayev region in Ukraine,” the ministry wrote, adding an accusation that the British Navy was also behind the attack on the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines in September.
The British Defense Ministry called the accusation an “invented story.”
“To [distract] from their disastrous handling of the illegal invasion of Ukraine, the Russian Ministry of Defense is resorting to peddling false claims of an epic scale,” the ministry tweeted. “This invented story says more about arguments going on inside the Russian Government than it does about the West.”
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