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Russia suspends Ukrainian grain export deal after Crimea attack – Reuters

The Russian government said it had indefinitely suspended a months-old agreement allowing grain shipments to leave Ukrainian ports, citing an attack on a base in occupied Crimea as the reason.

According to a statement released Saturday by the Russian Foreign Ministry, Moscow is “suspending its participation” for an “indefinite period” in a UN-brokered agreement to ensure that agricultural products produced in Ukraine can reach world markets.

The agreement is considered essential for global food security given Ukraine’s role as a major producer of grain, which is then normally shipped via the Black Sea to markets around the world, particularly in Africa and the United States. Middle East.

“The Russian side cannot guarantee the safety of civilian dry cargo ships,” the Foreign Ministry said, citing an alleged drone attack by Ukraine on the port of Sevastopol in Crimea in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said in a Tweeter that Moscow was using a “false pretext to block the grain corridor”.

The Russian ministry statement repeated claims made earlier in the day that British experts had supported Ukraine in the attack on Crimea, with Moscow also accusing British forces of being behind explosions that seriously damaged the Nord Stream gas pipeline without providing supporting evidence. London refuse the revendications.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s chief of staff Andriy Yermak has accused Russia of “blackmail” and “fictitious terrorist attacks”.

The export deal, dubbed the Black Sea Grain Initiative, was to last until November 19, when all parties should have agreed to extend it. The deal allowed Ukraine to revive grain and fertilizer exports via the Black Sea, which had been blocked when Russia invaded the country in late February.

Since the UN-backed grain deal was signed in Turkey on July 22, several million tonnes of wheat, maize, sunflower products and other cereals have been shipped out of Ukraine. .

The UN, which brokered the grain deal with Turkey, said it was “in touch with the Russian authorities” regarding Moscow’s suspension of the deal.

“It is vital that all parties refrain from any action that would jeopardize the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which is an essential humanitarian effort,” said Stéphane Dujarric, spokesperson for the UN Secretary General. , António Guterres, in a statement.

Nahal Toosi contributed reporting from Washington.

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