Russia suspends participation in deal on Ukraine grain exports
Russia on Saturday said that it was suspending its participation in an agreement to export grain and other agricultural products from Ukrainian ports, upending a deal that was intended to alleviate a global food crisis.
The announcement from the Russian ministry of defence came within hours after it accused Ukraine of launching an attack on ships from the Black Sea Fleet in Crimea that it said were participating in the grain initiative, which was organised around specific shipping lanes in the Black Sea.
Russia at first said that it had repulsed the attack by Ukrainian drones, but later backtracked and said at least one minesweeper had sustained damage.
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.”
There was no immediate comment from Ukrainian officials or from the UN, which brokered the deal.
The agreement, known as the Black Sea Grain Initiative, ended a five-month Russian blockade of Ukraine’s ports this summer and was set to expire at the end of November.
In recent weeks Russia had suggested it might refuse to extend the pact if Moscow’s demands over its food and fertiliser exports were not met.
Although the grain deal’s primary goal was to end Russia’s blockage on Ukrainian exports, which had been contributing to a global food crisis, it also allowed for more shipments of Russian grain and fertiliser. As part of the deal, the US and the EU gave assurances that banks and companies involved in trading Russian grain and fertiliser would be exempt from sanctions.
The Russian defence ministry blamed “the Kyiv regime”saying in a statement that the ships of Russia’s Black SeaFleet were the target and that minor damage had been sustained by at least one Russian vessel, a minesweeper.
“It added that 16 drones were involved and that “all air targets” had been destroyed.
There was no immediate comment from Ukrainian officials, who have maintained a policy of official ambiguity about attacks far behind the front lines.
New York Times News Service
Koblenz, Germany: Days after his first visit to Ukraine since the Russian invasion, Germany’s President condemned President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and characterized his invasion of Ukraine as the end of an era, warning of difficult times to come.
The German President, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, has been criticised for being too invested in diplomacy and business ties with Russia.
But in a speech on Friday, Steinmeier — who holds a largely ceremonial role —offered his strongest show of support for Ukraine and sharpest criticism of Putinyet. “When we look at the Russia of today, there is no room for old dreams,” he said. “Our countries are standing against each other today.”
He said that Putin’s “imperial obsession” had driven the Russian President to violate international law, commit land grabs and call borders into question.
New York Times News Service