UPDATE: Grain exports from Ukraine are officially back on, as Russia said on Wednesday, November 2, that it resumes its participation in the UN-brokered grain trade deal.
Russia announced it would halt taking part in the Black Sea Grain initiative, a humanitarian agreement that supported the export of over 9 million tons from Ukraine so far, significantly contributing to mitigating rising food prices. Shipments could still pass on October 31. Ukraine accused Russia of creating “hunger games”, AP reports. Russia defends its move saying it comes in response to an attack against its Black Sea Fleet ships stationed off the coast of Crimea. Ukraine said it was not behind this attack that allegedly took place on October 29. Russia also accused the UK of playing a part in the attacks over its ships.
The escalation came just as the U.N. urged Russia and Ukraine to renew the grain export deal, which was scheduled to expire on November 19.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called the Russian move “predictable”, AP reports, adding that there are 176 vessels currently backed up at sea, which carry more than 2 million tons of food. Ukraine is said to continue to try shipping grain and 12 ships left its Black Sea ports on Monday, October 31, the BBC reports. On Monday, President Vladimir Putin said Russia was suspending, but not ending, its participation in the deal, adds the source.
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