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Russia on Saturday announced the suspension of its participation in a landmark agreement that allowed vital grain exports from Ukraine, blaming drone attacks on Russian ships in Crimea.
Russia made the announcement after its army accused Kyiv earlier Saturday of a ‘massive’ drone attack on its Black Sea fleet, which Ukraine labelled a ‘false pretext’ and the UN urged the deal’s preservation.
The Turkey and UN-brokered deal to unlock grain exports signed between Russia and Ukraine in July is critical to easing the global food crisis caused by the conflict.
The agreement already allowed more than nine million tonnes of Ukrainian grain to be exported and was due to be renewed on November 19.
A Turkish security source told reporters that Ankara had not been ‘officially notified’ of Russia’s suspension, while Ukraine and the UN pushed for the agreement to remain in force.
“I call on all states to demand that Russia stop its hunger games and recommit to fulfilling its obligations,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Twitter.
Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for the UN secretary-general, said: ‘It is vital that all parties refrain from any action that would imperil the Black Sea Grain Initiative which is a critical humanitarian effort.’
Sevastopol in Moscow-annexed Crimea has been targeted several times in recent months and serves as the headquarters for the Black Sea fleet and a logistical hub for operations in Ukraine.
The Russian army claimed to have “destroyed” nine aerial drones and seven maritime ones, in an attack in the port early Saturday.
Moscow’s forces alleged British “specialists”, whom they said were based in the southern Ukrainian city of Ochakiv, had helped prepare and train Kyiv to carry out the strike.