Russia-Ukraine War: Live Updates – The New York Times

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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 Russia’s Defense Ministry came 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 organized 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 Defense Ministry said, “Russia suspends its participation in the implementation of the agreements on the export of agricultural products from Ukraine.”

The suspension will be “for an indefinite period,” according to Russia’s Foreign Ministry. It said in a statement that Russia stood ready to sell its own grain to world markets as a replacement for Ukrainian grain.

The agreement, known as the Black Sea Grain Initiative, 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. In recent weeks, its future had appeared uncertain.

The United Nations said Saturday that it was in touch with the Russian authorities regarding the reports that Russia was suspending participation.

“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,” Stéphane Dujarric, the spokesman for António Guterres, the United Nations secretary general, said.

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

“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.

Earlier this month, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine accused Russia of deliberately slowing grain exports to create a food crisis. There was a backlog of 150 ships waiting to transport Ukrainian wheat, corn, sunflower oil and other products, he said on Oct. 21.

He echoed those warnings on Saturday, saying in his nightly address that Russia’s decision was “predictable” because it had been “deliberately aggravating” the food crisis for weeks.

“Russia is doing everything to ensure that millions of Africans, millions of residents of the Middle East and South Asia find themselves in conditions of artificial famine or at least a severe price crisis,” he said, urging a strong international response.

“The world has the power to protect people against this,” Mr. Zelensky added.

Under the pact, Ukrainian pilots guide ships through Ukrainian minefields around the ports, and are then given safe passage by the Russian Navy to Turkey, where teams with representatives from all the parties inspect them before they head to delivery ports. Returning ships are also inspected for arms.

U.N. officials have hailed the deal as a success, with Mr. Guterres crediting the shipments with driving down world food prices and averting a global hunger crisis.

As of Oct. 27, more than 9.2 million tons of grain and other foodstuffs had been exported under the agreement, according to data shared by the United Nations.

Cassandra Vinograd contributed reporting.


Oct. 29, 2022

Because of an editing error, an earlier version of this article misstated the amount of grain and other foodstuffs that had been exported from Ukraine. It was more than 9.2 million tons, not more than 9.2 tons.


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