U.N., Turkey, Ukraine press ahead with Black Sea grain deal despite Russian pullout

  • The UN said sixteen ships would move on October 31
  • Russia says Ukraine has retaliated against attacks on ships
  • The July agreement allowed the export of grain from Ukraine
  • The US, NATO and the EU urged Russia to change course on the deal

KYIV/NEW YORK, Oct 30 (Reuters) – The United Nations, Turkey and Ukraine continued to press on Monday to implement a Black Sea grain deal with a transit plan for 16 ships, despite Russia suspending its participation in the deal. Allowed the export of Ukrainian agricultural products to the world market.

Russia, which invaded Ukraine on February 24, suspended its role in the Black Sea treaty “indefinitely” on Saturday as it said it could not “guarantee the safety of civilian vessels” traveling under the treaty following its attack on the Black Sea. Marine fleet.

The two main brokers of the July deal, the United Nations and Turkey, scrambled on Sunday to save it. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was deeply concerned by Russia’s move and delayed an overseas trip to try to revive an agreement aimed at easing the global food crisis, his spokesman said.

Following Russia’s decision, wheat prices were expected to rise in international commodity markets on Monday as both Russia and Ukraine are the world’s largest wheat exporters, analysts said.

More than 9.5 million tonnes of corn, wheat, sunflower products, barley, rapeseed and soy have been exported since July. Under the agreement, the Joint Coordination Center (JCC) – made up of UN, Turkish, Russian and Ukrainian officials – agrees on the movement of ships and inspects the ships.

No ships moved through the Maritime Humanitarian Corridor established on Sunday. But the United Nations said in a statement that it had agreed on Monday with Ukraine and Turkey on a plan for the movement of 16 ships – 12 outbound and 4 inbound.

Russian officials at the JCC were told of the plan, with the intention of inspecting 40 outbound vessels on Monday, and stated that “all participants coordinate with their respective militaries and other relevant authorities to ensure the safe passage of commercial vessels.” Under the agreement.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar was in contact with his Russian and Ukrainian counterparts trying to save the deal and asked the parties to refrain from any provocation, the Turkish Defense Ministry said.

NATO and the European Union have urged Russia to reconsider its decision. US President Joe Biden on Saturday said Russia’s move was “outrageous” and would increase hunger. US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken accused Moscow of making weapons on food.

On Sunday, Russia’s ambassador to Washington hit back, saying the US response was “insulting” and making false claims about Moscow’s move.

false pretext’

The Russian Defense Ministry said Ukraine attacked the Black Sea fleet near Sevastopol with 16 drones and that British naval “experts” helped coordinate what it called a terrorist attack. Britain rejected this claim. Russia said it repelled the attack but the ships targeted were involved in securing a grain corridor through Ukraine’s Black Sea ports.

Ukraine has neither confirmed nor denied it was behind the attack. Ukraine’s military has suggested that the Russians themselves were responsible for the blasts.

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Moscow used the explosions, 220 km (137 miles) from the grain corridor, as a “false pretext” for long-term intentions.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyi’s chief of staff on Saturday accused Russia of inventing attacks on its own facilities.

Ukraine has often accused Russia of using the Black Sea Fleet to fire cruise missiles at Ukrainian civilian targets, an allegation supported by some military analysts that makes the fleet a legitimate military target.

Russia’s offensive has recently been dominated by Ukrainian counteroffensives and Russian drone and missile strikes that have destroyed more than 30% of Ukraine’s manufacturing capacity and damaged populated areas. Each side has accused the other of preparing to detonate radioactive bombs.

Russia asked for a UN Security Council meeting on Monday to discuss the Sevastopol attack, UN Deputy Ambassador Dmitry Polinsky wrote on Twitter.

Blocked ships

The grain agreement had allowed shipments from Ukraine to resume, targeting pre-war levels of 5 million metric tons exported from Ukraine per month, allowing sales on the world market.

But before the Nov. 19 deadline, Russia said it had serious problems, and Ukraine complained that Moscow had blocked nearly 200 ships from lifting grain cargoes.

The agreement ensured safe passage through Odessa and two other Ukrainian ports.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia of wanting to escalate the crisis and said 218 ships were blocked and waiting to either carry food or enter Ukrainian ports.

Zelenskiy said 40,000 tons of wheat were loaded onto a ship at the port of Chornomorsk, chartered by the UN Food Program and intended for Ethiopia, which was “on the brink of starvation” and facing “catastrophic” conditions like Yemen and Somalia. lack of food.

“We are ready to release this ship at sea,” he said, but like other ships carrying agricultural products, “we are being forced to wait because Russia is blackmailing the world with hunger,” he said.

Zelensky called for a strong response from the United Nations and major G20 economies to Russia’s futile move on the grain deal, saying in a video address on Saturday that the move threatens to lead to mass starvation in Africa and Asia. .

Reporting by David Ljunggren and Reuters Bureau; Writing by William Mallard, Guy Faulconbridge, Tomasz Janowski, Philippa Fletcher and Humeyra Pamuk; Edited by Frances Carey, Will Dunham and Sandra Mahler

Our Standards: Principles of Thomson Reuters Trust.

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