U.N. chief delays travel to try to bring Russia back into grain deal

  • Russia says the move is in response to Ukraine’s attack on ships
  • The July agreement allowed the export of grain from Ukraine
  • The US, NATO and the EU are urging Russia to change the deal

KYIV/NEW YORK, Oct 30 (Reuters) – UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed deep concern on Sunday about Russia’s decision to suspend its participation in a UN-brokered deal that allowed shipments hate from Ukraine, because he delayed a foreign visit to try. to revive the agreement intended to alleviate the global food crisis.

Russia, which invaded Ukraine in February, on Saturday suspended its role in the Black Sea market that had been settled in July, effectively cutting off shipments from one of the world’s top grain exporters. Russia said it was responding to what it called a major Ukrainian drone attack earlier that day on its navy near the port of Sevastopol in Russian-annexed Crimea.

“The Secretary-General is deeply concerned about the ongoing situation regarding the Black Sea Grain Initiative,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement, adding that Guterres was engaged in “intense contacts” aimed at ending Russia’s suspension of its participation in the agreement.

Guterres delayed his departure for the Arab League Summit in Algiers for a day to focus on the issue, according to the statement.

More than 9 million tons of corn, wheat, sunflower products, barley, rye and soy have been exported under the deal, which was negotiated by Turkey together with the United Nations.

Turkey’s defense ministry said that Minister Hulusi Akar was in talks with his Russian and Ukrainian counterparts to resume the agreement and asked the parties involved to avoid any provocation.

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NATO said Ukraine’s grain exports helped reduce food prices around the world.

“We call on Russia to reconsider its decision and urgently renew the agreement, which will enable food to reach the people who need it most,” NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said.

Ukraine’s infrastructure ministry said the decision effectively blocked 218 vessels.

Wheat prices on international commodity markets were expected to jump on Monday as a result, as Russia and Ukraine are among the world’s biggest wheat exporters, analysts said.

The European Union also urged Moscow to reverse course.

“Russia’s decision to suspend participation in the Black Sea market suspends the main export route of grain and fertilizer that is badly needed to address the global food crisis caused by the war against Ukraine,” wrote a top policy executive EU foreign minister Josep Borrell on Twitter.

US President Joe Biden on Saturday called Russia’s move “absolutely outrageous” and said it would increase hunger. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken accused Moscow of weaponizing food. On Sunday, Russia’s ambassador to Washington cut back, saying the US response was “outrageous” and made false assertions about Moscow’s move.

Russia’s defense ministry said Ukraine attacked the Black Sea Fleet near Sevastopol with 16 drones early on and British naval “specialists” helped coordinate what it called a terrorist attack. Britain denied the claim. Russia said it denied the attack but that the ships targeted were involved in ensuring the grain corridor out of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports.


Ukraine has neither confirmed nor denied it was behind the attack. The Ukrainian military suggested that the Russians themselves may have been responsible for the explosions.

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Moscow used the explosions 220 km (137 miles) away from the grain corridor as a “false pretense” for a long-planned move.

The president’s chief of staff Volodymyr Zelenskiy accused Russia on Saturday of orchestrating attacks on its own facilities.

Ukraine often accuses Russia of using the Black Sea Navy to fire cruise missiles at Ukrainian civilian targets, a charge supported by some military analysts who say the navy is a legitimate military target.

The recent Russian invasion was preceded by Ukrainian counter-attacks and Russian drone and missile attacks that destroyed more than 30% of Ukraine’s generating capacity and hit populated areas. Both sides accused the other of preparing to detonate radioactive bombs.

Zelenskiy called for a strong response from the United Nations and the Group of 20 (G20) major economies to what he called Russia’s unconscionable move on the grain market, saying in a video address on Saturday that the move was a threat of large-scale famine in Africa and Asia. .

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The agreement restarted grain shipments from Ukraine, allowing sales on world markets, targeting the pre-war level of 5 million metric tons exported from Ukraine each month.

But before it expired on November 19, Russia had said it had serious problems and Ukraine complained that Moscow had blocked the collection of nearly 200 grain cargo ships.

The agreement ensured safe passage in and out of Odesa and two other Ukrainian ports.

Russia asked the UN Security Council to meet on Monday to discuss the Sevastopol attack, UN Deputy Ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy wrote on Twitter.

On the ground, the Russian occupation forces were trying to make life difficult for the residents of the southern Kherson region, the Armed Forces of Ukraine said in a statement on Facebook.

Internet access was cut off for residents of Nova Kakhovka, near a large hydropower plant in the north of the region. Cars with loudspeakers were moving through town telling residents to leave within 48 hours, citing the threat of missile strikes from Ukraine. Shop owners were ordered to sell all supplies of food products and close by Tuesday.

Reporting by David Ljunggren and Reuters bureaus; Written by William Mallard, Guy Faulconbridge, Tomasz Janowski, Philippa Fletcher and Humeyra Pamuk; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell, Nick Macfie, Frances Kerry and Will Dunham

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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