UN in contact with Russia after Moscow halts Ukraine Black Sea grain exports, citing attack on Crimea

UN in contact with Russia after Moscow halts Ukraine Black Sea grain exports, citing attack on Crimea

UNITED NATIONS, Oct 29 (APP):The United Nations said Saturday that it was ‘in touch’ with Russian authorities after a Moscow announcement that it is withdrawing from the UN-facilitated Ukraine 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 statement on 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.

According to media reports, the attack occurred early Saturday in Sevastopol, the biggest city in Crimea, the Russian Defence 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.”

Russia also said 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 the Russian move thus upended a deal that was intended to alleviate a global food crisis.

Given the attack, the statement from the defence ministry said, “Russian suspends its participation in the implementation of the agreements on the export of agricultural products from Ukraine.”

The agreement was signed in July and ended a five-month Russian blockade of Ukraine’s ports. Brokered with Russia and Ukraine by the United Nations and Turkey, the deal was set to expire on Nov. 19 and in recent weeks, its future had appeared uncertain.

Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, said his government had warned that Russia would try to upend the deal, according to the reports.

“Now Moscow uses a false pretext to block the grain corridor which ensures food security for millions of people,” he wrote on Twitter. “I call on all states to demand Russia to stop its hunger games and recommit to its obligations.”

Although the grain deal’s primary goal was to end Russia’s blockade on Ukrainian exports, which had been contributing to a global food crisis, it also allowed for more shipments of Russian grain and fertilizer. As part of the deal, the United States and the European Union gave assurances that banks and companies involved in trading Russian grain and fertilizer would be exempt from sanctions.

In recent weeks Russia had suggested it might refuse to extend the agreement if Moscow’s demands over its food and fertilizer exports were not met.

APP Services