Russia halts grain trade after drone attack on ships in Crimea: ‘Artificial famine’ | Abroad

After the major drone attack on the Black Sea fleet in Crimea, Russia withdrew this afternoon from the grain agreement it concluded with Ukraine in July. This could have consequences for millions of people worldwide who depend on Ukrainian grain. Ukrainian President Zelensky says Russia is causing an ‘artificial famine’. His country even accuses Russia of attacking its own ships.

The attack on the port of Sevastopol early this morning hit at least one ship that Russia claims was involved in the grain trade. “This is a terrorist act by the Kiev regime, with the assistance of British experts, against the ships of the Black Sea Fleet and civilian ships involved in the grain trade. Russia suspends participation in the agreement on the export of agricultural products from Ukrainian ports,” the statement said.

Earlier in the day, the ministry said a minesweeper had been hit by the drone strike but had only minimal damage. According to the Russians, both aerial and underwater drones were used.

Food for millions of people

The UN states that it is important that all parties remain committed to maintaining the grain agreement. According to a spokesman, that deal has had a “clearly positive impact on access to food for millions of people on Earth” in recent months. Especially countries in Africa and Asia import a lot of Ukrainian grain. The war created a food crisis there, to which the grain trade had to mean a solution.

Ukraine is one of the largest suppliers of grain in the world, but could hardly export any of it in the first months of the war. At the initiative of Turkey, an agreement was signed in mid-July in which both Russia and Ukraine agree to respect trade in the Black Sea and not to attack.

The EU will save the agreement

The European Union supports the UN’s request to maintain the grain agreement, foreign affairs spokesman Nabila Massrali said this evening. “We warn all parties not to take unilateral decisions that could jeopardize a critical humanitarian effort.” Ukrainian President Zelensky asks other countries to condemn Russia’s decision at the UN and G20. He states in a video message that Russia is creating an artificial famine.

Russia also wants the UN Security Council to speak out, but against the ‘terrorist attack’ on the Black Sea Fleet. That meeting was to be held on Monday.

Russia is behind the attack

Andriy Yermak, Ukrainian President Zelensky’s chief of staff, quickly reacted, accusing Russia of blackmail. According to him, Russia itself is behind the attack on Crimea. Ukraine’s foreign minister accused Moscow of a “false pretext” in its decision to kill the grain corridor. “I call on all states to demand that Russia stop its hunger games and return to its commitments,” Dmitro Koeleba said on Twitter.

Britain has denied involvement in the attack and has also previously refuted Russian claims of involvement in the Nord Stream explosions.

Anton Gerashenko, an adviser to the Ukrainian Cabinet, posted alleged footage of the drone attack on the Black Sea Fleet this morning:

‘Free Russian Grain’

Russian Agriculture Minister Dmitri Patrushev said earlier today that he wants to distribute 500,000 tons of grain for free to poor countries over the next four months. “Russia is within reach to replace Ukrainian grain and provide supplies at affordable prices.”

This includes the grain agreement

Russia and Ukraine signed the agreement in July this year to jointly prevent countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East in particular from running out of grain.

Overall, the agreement means that shipping routes must remain free of mines, and cargo from cargo ships is inspected, both on approach to, for example, the port of Odessa and on departure. Russia does not abuse safe shipping routes for war purposes, and the EU lifted trade sanctions against Russia that hindered Russian exports of primarily food. Several ships have been transporting wheat, corn and other grains through a coordination center in Istanbul since the summer.

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