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Sunday, October 30, 2022 – Russia has said it is suspending its participation in the agreement that allowed grain exports from Ukraine, blaming alleged drone attacks on Russian ships in Crimea.
“In light of the terrorist act carried out by the Kyiv regime with the participation of British experts against ships of the Black Sea fleet and civilian vessels involved in the security of grain corridors, Russia suspends its participation in the implementation of the agreement on the export of agricultural products from Ukrainian ports,” the Russian Defense Ministry announced on Telegram on Saturday, October 29.
Reigniting concerns about global food insecurity, the Russian Foreign Ministry said separately that because of the attack it would “no longer guarantee the safety of civilian dry cargo ships participating in the Black Sea Grain Initiative and will suspend its implementation from today for an indefinite period.”
The Russian Defense Ministry said the drone attacks were largely repelled, and only one minesweeper sustained minor damage.
Britain responded to the drone attacks accusation by saying that Russia was making “false claims of an epic scale.” Ukraine did not officially claim responsibility for the attacks.
A video that emerged on Ukrainian Telegram channels on Saturday showed a naval drone targeting what appeared to be the Russian Admiral Makarov frigate. The Makarov had reportedly replaced the flagship of the Russian navy’s Black Sea fleet, Moskva, which sank in April after Ukrainian forces hit it with Neptune anti-ship missiles
More than 8 million tons of grain were exported from Ukraine as part of the deal that saw global food prices go down, according to the United Nations.
“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,” Stéphane Dujarric, spokesman for U.N. Secretary General António Guterres, said in a statement.
Moscow and Kyiv signed the grain deal in July, opening up Ukrainian Black Sea ports for exports, which had been halted after Russia invaded the country on Feb. 24.
Turkey played a key role in brokering the deal, as it has close ties with Russia and Ukraine and has sought to raise its diplomatic profile to mediate the talks between warring sides.
As part of the deal, Ukrainian pilots guided ships through the port, which Ukraine mined earlier in the war to prevent Russia from capturing key ports like Odessa.
The ships were then given safe passage by the Russian military to sail to Turkey, which organized teams with experts from all involved parties to inspect the vessels before they set off to their destinations. Ships going into Ukraine were also inspected for weapons, a condition Moscow set to ensure the grain corridor is not used to supply Western arms to Ukraine.
The United States and Ukraine also accused the Russian navy of laying of mines near Ukrainian coast.