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Russia releases video, says Ukrainian choppers setting wheat fields on fire

Russia has emphasized that the export of Ukrainian grain is hindered by the mining of the Black Sea by Kyiv (File image courtesy: Kremlin.ru)

Russia has once again accused Ukraine of destroying fertile agricultural land, saying that the Ukrainian forces are setting wheat fields on fire amid a global food crisis.

The Russian Embassy in New Delhi tweeted a video on Monday which showed a military helicopter from Ukraine burning its wheat fields

"Kherson | #Ukraine Mi-24 military helicopter sets a wheat field on fire. Any idea why they do so while European officials claims that the world is on the brink of a food crisis?" tweeted the Embassy. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin, during a meeting with his cabinet last Friday – which was also attended by Dmitry Patrushev, the head of the Ministry of Agriculture – had revealed that Moscow is targeting a harvest of 130 million tonnes of grain this year.

On Monday evening, Putin also spoke with Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, discussing not just uninterrupted supplies of Russian energy resources but also the export of grain from the region considered the breadbasket of the world.

"An exchange of views on the situation around Ukraine continued, including in the context of coordinating efforts to ensure the safety of navigation in the Black Sea and grain exports to world markets," the Kremlin said in a statement later.

Erdogan, who had later dialed President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine as well, discussed with Putin the formation of secure corridors via the Black Sea for grain export.

"President Erdogan noted that it was time for the United Nations to take action for the plan regarding the formation of secure corridors via the Black Sea for the grain export," Ankara said after the phone call between the two leaders.

Russia has emphasized that the export of Ukrainian grain is hindered by the mining of the Black Sea by Kyiv.

In a phone conversation with the UN Secretary-General Anatoli Guterres on June 29, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov conveyed his country's readiness to continue fulfilling its obligations to export food and fertilizers "despite the fact that their implementation is significantly complicated by illegal unilateral sanctions by Western states" and the disruption of global value chains due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian Navy said today that the first eight foreign ships have arrived at its ports to export agricultural products.

"At the request of the Ministry of Infrastructure, the Naval Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine joined the effort to ensure transportation of agricultural products by civilian ships through the Bystre mouth of the Danube-Black Sea channel. The first group of eight foreign ships has already arrived at the ports of Ukraine," Ukrinform, the national news agency of Ukraine, reported today quoting a statement from the country's naval authorities.

It said that the use of the channel became possible after the Ukrainian forces took control of Snake Island once again which allowed them to manage the surface and partly air situation in the south of Ukraine. 

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