Ukraine blames Russia for making grain export ‘impossible’

2. Russia Grain
A UN-chartered vessel loads grain to export to Ethiopia in Yuzhne, Ukraine, on August 14, 2022. (File photo: AFP)

KYIV — Russia’s blockade of grain exports makes it “impossible” for fully loaded ships to leave port, Ukraine claimed Sunday after Moscow said drone attacks on its Crimea fleet had exploited the grain corridor safe zone.اضافة اعلان

Kyiv’s maritime grain exports were halted after Russia pulled out of a landmark agreement that allowed the vital shipments.

The July deal to unlock grain exports signed between Russia and Ukraine and brokered by Turkey and the UN, is critical to easing the global food crisis caused by the conflict.

“(A) bulk carrier loaded with 40 tonnes of grain was supposed to leave the Ukraine port today,” infrastructure minister Oleksandr Kubrakov tweeted.

“These foodstuffs were intended for Ethiopians, that are on the verge of famine. But due to the blockage of the ‘grain corridor’ by Russia the export is impossible,” the Ukrainian minister said.

The agreement had already allowed more than 9 million tonnes of Ukrainian grain to be exported and was due to be renewed on November 19.

Russia’s defense ministry alleged Sunday the attack drones had “Canadian-made navigation modules”, saying it had recovered debris from some of the weapons in the sea. 

Specialists had “conducted an examination of Canadian-made navigation modules installed on the marine unmanned vehicles”, the ministry said.

On Saturday Russia announced its suspension after accusing Kyiv of a “massive” drone attack on the Black Sea fleet, which Ukraine labelled a “false pretext”.

US President Joe Biden called the move “purely outrageous” while Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Moscow was “weaponizing food”.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Sunday expressed “deep concern” about the situation, his spokesman said, and delayed his departure for an Arab League Summit in Algiers by a day “to focus on the issue”.

The EU on Sunday urged Russia to “revert its decision”.

Enough grain to ‘feed millions’

The center coordinating the logistics of the deal said in a statement that no traffic was planned for Sunday.

“A joint agreement has not been reached at the (joint coordination center) for the movement of inbound and outbound vessels on 30 October,” it said. “There are more than 10 vessels both outbound and inbound waiting to enter the corridor.”

Turkey’s defense ministry later Sunday said ships would not leave Ukraine “during this period” but Turkey would continue checks of ships in Istanbul carrying Ukrainian grain “today and tomorrow”.

It also said Russia had formally notified Turkey of its suspension but “Russian personnel remained at the coordination center” in Istanbul.

Ukraine’s foreign minister said on Twitter that Russia was blocking “2 million tonnes of grain on 176 vessels already at sea” that he said was “enough to feed 7 million people.”

He accused Moscow of having planned to “resume its hunger games” in advance and said the Black Sea explosions were “220km away from the grain corridor”.

‘Peddling false claims’

Kyiv and the UN earlier urged that the agreement remain in force.  

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called Russia’s move “an absolutely transparent intention of Russia to return the threat of large-scale famine to Africa and Asia”.

Sevastopol in Crimea has been targeted several times in recent months and serves as the Black Sea fleet’s headquarters and a logistical hub for operations in Ukraine.

Russia’s army claimed to have “destroyed” nine aerial drones and seven maritime ones in an attack on the port early Saturday.

Moscow’s military said ships targeted at their Crimean base were involved in the grain deal.

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