Russia blames Ukraine for naval attacks and suspends the grain export agreement

Russia blames Ukraine for naval attacks and suspends the grain export agreement
FILE PHOTO: A combine harvests wheat in a field near the village of Zghurivka, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv region, Ukraine August 9, 2022. REUTERS/Viacheslav Musiienko/File Photo

Ukraine’s Black Sea grain exports were interrupted by Russia’s invasion earlier this year, and grain has been piling up in the country for over eight months. But, in July, the UN negotiated a deal with Russia to allow Ukraine to ship its grain to ease a global food crisis. The deal is important, as Ukraine is one of the world’s biggest grain producers.

But, after blaming Ukraine and the UK for a “massive” drone-led attack on its navel fleet in Crimea, a region annexed by Putin in 2014, Russia announced on Sunday it would suspend the agreement indefinitely. Moscow also said that the drone attacks on its naval fleet on Saturday targeted ships offering security for the Black Sea grain transport– a claim that is unverified.

Ukraine President Zelenskiy didn’t seem surprised by Russia’s move and called for an international response. US President Biden called the suspension “outrageous,” and said it’ll increase starvation. One thing is for sure – the deal’s suspension could cast more uncertainty on global markets and increase fears of food shortages.

Key comments:

“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,” said a statement from the Russian foreign ministry.

“This is an absolutely deliberate blockade by Russia,” said Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. “This is an absolutely transparent intention of Russia to return the threat of large-scale famine to Africa and Asia.”

“They’re always looking for some rationale to be able to say the reason they’re doing something outrageous is because the West made them do it,” said US President Joe Biden. “There’s no merit to what they’re doing. The UN negotiated that deal, and that should be the end of it.”

“To detract from their disastrous handling of the illegal invasion of Ukraine, the Russian Ministry of Defence is resorting to peddling false claims of an epic scale. This invented story, says more about arguments going on inside the Russian Government than it does about the West,” said the UK’s Ministry of Defense in response to Russia’s accusations that the UK was involved in both the drone attacks and sabotaging the Nord Steam pipeline.