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Russia says ready to open ‘grain corridor’ only if Ukraine stops misusing it for military attacks

A file photo of UN Secretary-General António Guterres observing the WFP ship SSI Invincible 2 headed to Ukraine to pick up grain exported with Black Sea Grain Initiative (Image courtesy: UN/Mark Garten)

Alleging that Ukraine has resorted to using grain corridor for military purposes, Russia has suspended implementation of the Black Sea Grain Initiative indefinitely.

The United Nations-backed agreement was signed by Russia, Ukraine and Turkey in Istanbul on July 22 in order to give global access to Ukrainian food products and Russian food and fertilizer.

Moscow has claimed that on the morning of October 29, the Ukrainian armed forces, “under the cover” of the humanitarian grain corridor created as part of the Black Sea Initiative, launched massive air and sea strikes against the ships and infrastructure of the Russian Black Sea Fleet at the naval base in Sevastopol.

The attack on Russian ships involved in ensuring the security of the grain corridor for the export of agricultural products from Ukrainian ports, it said, involved nine unmanned aerial vehicles and seven autonomous underwater drones.

Earlier today, at a meeting of the UN Security Council in connection with the suspension of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, Russia’s Permanent Representative Vasily Alekseyevich Nebenzya said that experts who examined the wreckage of marine unmanned vehicles – and subsequently the Canadian-made navigation modules installed on them – found out that the launch of these marine drones was carried out from the coast near the city of Odessa.

“They moved along the security zone of the grain corridor, after which they changed the route in the direction of Sevastopol in the Russian Crimea. At the same time, the coordinates of the movement of one of the vehicles indicate the starting point directly in the sea area of the grain corridor security zone. This may indicate the launch of a drone from one of the civilian ships chartered by Kyiv and its Western curators to export agricultural products,” said Nebenzya.

According to the Russian Ministry of Defence, the preparation of this “terrorist attack” was carried out by Kyiv “under the guidance of British specialists” located in the port of Ochakov, Mykolaiv region of Ukraine.

“Also noteworthy is the presence on Saturday in the sky over the Black Sea near the coast of Crimea of the US strategic reconnaissance drone RQ-4В Global Hawk,” stated Russia’s UN Ambassador.

Insisting that it cannot guarantee the safety of civilian dry cargo ships participating in the Black Sea Initiative, Russia suspended its implementation immediately after the Sevastopol incident.

Corresponding instructions were also given to its representatives at the Joint Coordination Centre (JCC) in Istanbul which controls the transportation of Ukrainian food.

But, Moscow alleged, the work continued in Istanbul without the participation of Russian experts.

“In particular, on October 30-31, representatives of Turkey, the UN and Ukraine agreed on the passage of 12 ships from Ukrainian ports to Turkey, 4 from Turkey to Ukraine and 40 from Turkey to the Mediterranean Sea,” Nebenzya said in his statement in New York.

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also dialled Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu on Monday to discuss the current situation.

Black Sea Grain Initiative
A commercial vessel carrying grain under the Black Sea Grain Initiative (Image courtesy: UN OCHA/Levent Kulu)

“During the conversation, S V Lavrov outlined the need to ensure the receipt of guarantees from Ukraine on the non-use of the humanitarian corridor and Ukrainian ports, identified in the interests of the export of agricultural products, to conduct military operations against the Russian Federation,” said a statement issued by the Russian Foreign Ministry.

“Only under such conditions is it possible to discuss the issue of resuming traffic along the security corridor defined by the Black Sea Initiative,” it added.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in a call with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday, said that his country is determined to “remain a guarantor of world food security” and to continue its grain exports.

“Held talks with UN Secretary-General @antonioguterres. Confirmed Ukraine’s commitment to the Grain Deal. We’re ready to remain a guarantor of global food safety. Informed about the consequences of the missile terror and nuclear blackmail by the Russian Federation. The reaction of the world & UN must be tough!” Zelensky wrote on Twitter.

Kyiv also accused Russia of continuing to launch missile and drone attacks on civilian infrastructure in Ukraine.

Ukrainian capital city’s Mayor Vitali Klitschko was quoted as saying that 350,000 Kyiv homes were cut off from electricity, and 80% were left without water as of noon due to fresh Russian missile attacks which also damaged 450 cell towers causing mobile communication disruptions.

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