Moscow: President Vladimir Putin has said Russia is suspending — but not ending — its participation in a deal that allows safe passage to vessels carrying Ukrainian grain exports.
Moscow pulled out of the UN-brokered agreement on Saturday, alleging that Ukraine had used a safety corridor in the Black Sea to attack its fleet, BBC reported.
The UN says there were no ships inside the corridor that night. Ukraine has not claimed responsibility for the attack.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the deal would be honored and accused Russia of “blackmailing the world with hunger” — a claim Russia denies.
Despite the fallout, 12 ships containing 354,500 tonnes of food, including grain, left Ukraine’s Black Sea ports on Monday, Ukraine’s Infrastructure Ministry said.
One of the vessels carrying 40,000 tonnes of grain was destined for Ethiopia, where “the real possibility of mass starvation” existed, the BBC quoted the Ministry as saying.
After Russia invaded Ukraine in February, its navy imposed a blockade on Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, trapping about 20 million tonnes of grain meant for export inside the country, along with other foodstuffs such as maize and sunflower oil.
But in July, a deal between Ukraine and Russia was brokered by Turkey and the UN, agreeing to resume grain exports through the Black Sea ports.