US President Joe Biden has warned that world hunger could rise due to Russia’s suspension of a UN-brokered deal to allow safe passage for ships carrying Ukrainian grain.
“It’s really outrageous,” Biden said Saturday in Wilmington, Delaware. “There is no merit in what they are doing. The UN brokered this deal and that should be the end of it.
Biden spoke hours later Russia has announced that it will immediately end its participation in the deal, alleging Ukraine staged a drone attack on Russian Black Sea Fleet ships off the coast of occupied Crimea on Saturday. Ukraine has denied the attack, saying Russia mismanaged its own weapons.
The grain initiative has allowed more than 9 million tonnes of grain in 397 ships to safely leave Ukrainian ports since it was signed in July, and the UN chief on Friday urged Russia and Ukraine to renew the agreement when it expires at the end of November. The grain deal has succeeded in lowering global food prices, which have fallen about 15% from their peak in March, according to the United Nations.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called the decision predictable and said Russia had deliberately escalated the food crisis since September. Currently, some 176 ships loaded with grain are prevented from leaving Ukrainian ports, he said.
“It’s food for more than 7 million consumers. … Why can a handful of people somewhere in the Kremlin decide whether there will be food on people’s tables in Egypt or in Bangladesh? he said in his nightly address to the nation on Saturday.
Other Ukrainian officials were more strident, with one saying Russia had started a real “hunger game” for the world’s poor.
A ship carrying 40,000 tonnes of grain bound for Ethiopia as part of the United Nations aid program was unable to leave Ukraine on Sunday due to Russia’s suspension of the deal, the government said. Oleksandr Kubrakov, Ukrainian Minister of Infrastructure.
Russia’s action faces international condemnation. European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell urged Russia to reverse its decision in a tweet on Sunday. Stéphane Dujarric, spokesman for the UN secretary-general, said the world body is in contact with the Russian authorities over the decision and that it is vital that all parties refrain from any action that would would hamper the cereals initiative.
Russia had been setting conditions for withdrawing from the deal for some time, said the Institute for the Study of Warfare, a Washington think tank. The institute said that even if Ukraine had ordered an attack on Russia’s Black Sea Fleet on Saturday, it would have been commensurate with Russia’s intense bombing campaign against Ukrainian civilian targets and energy infrastructure in recent years. weeks.
Earlier this month, Moscow has stepped up its missile and drone strikes on Ukrainian power plants, aqueducts and other key infrastructure, damaging 40% of Ukraine’s electricity system and forcing the government to implement blackouts. Kyiv’s mayor said the Ukrainian capital’s electricity system was operating in “emergency mode”.
The Kremlin has said it is ready for peace talks but stressed they should take place with Washington, which Russia sees as the “brain” of Kyiv, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Sunday. Russian state television.
“Obviously, the deciding vote belongs to Washington… It’s impossible to talk about something, for example, with Kyiv,” he said.
Such a request is unlikely to be accepted by the Ukrainian or US governments.
As diplomats focused on grain-filled ships, Russian missile attacks continued to hit key frontline hotspots in Ukraine.
The Russians have shelled seven Ukrainian regions in the past 24 hours, killing at least five civilians and wounding nine others, the Ukrainian presidential office said.
In the eastern region of Donetsk, where fighting continues near the towns of Bakhmut and Avdiivka, eight towns and villages were shelled.
In addition, in areas taken over by Ukraine, residents are still recovering the bodies of killed civilians, Donetsk Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said.
“In the past 24 hours alone, in three unoccupied towns and villages, we have found abandoned bodies of Ukrainian civilians,” Kirilenko said. “The Russians ignore all the principles of war. Every week, we discover individual or collective graves of civilians.
Ukrainian Interior Minister Denys Monastyrskiy also said on Sunday that Russian forces were mining the territories they left behind twice as densely as during the first months of the war.
“Virtually everything in the recently deoccupied territories has been mined,” Monastyrskiy told Ukrainian television.
Power cuts have been reported in the occupied Ukrainian town of Enerhodar, home to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the largest in Europe. Ukrainian and Russian officials traded blame for the bombings that caused the blackout.
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Sam Mednick, Associated Press