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October 29, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news
By Matt Meyer and Adrienne Vogt, CNN
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called the decision of Russia to suspend its participation from the grain export deal with Ukraine “deliberate” and “a rather predictable statement” in his nightly address Saturday.
“This is not the decision they made today,” Zelensky said. “Russia began deliberately exacerbating the food crisis back in September, when it blocked the movement of ships with our food.”
That echoes previous charges he's made about Russian interference with the program before Moscow officially backed out.
“How can Russia be among the others in the G20 if it is deliberately working to ensure starvation on several continents? This is nonsense. Russia has no place in the 'twenty,'" Zelensky added.
Zelensky called on “a strong international reaction” to Russia's suspension from the grain deal , in particular from the UN and the G20.
Russia’s decision to suspend participation in a United Nations-brokered grain export deal is “weaponizing food,” the White House said Saturday.
“Any talk by Russia of disrupting these critical grain exports is essentially a statement that people and families around the world should pay more for food or go hungry,” said Adrienne Watson, a spokesperson for the National Security Council, in a statement.
“Russia is again trying to use the war it started as a pretext for weaponizing food, directly impacting nations in need and global food prices, and exacerbating already dire humanitarian crises and food insecurity,” the statement read.
Russia said it was halting participation in the deal with Ukraine after drone attacks on the Crimean city of Sevastopol, the country’s defense ministry announced Saturday.
Some background: In July, following months of negotiations, ministers from both Ukraine and Russia signed an agreement brokered by the UN and Turkey. Russia pledged to unblock ports on the Black Sea to allow the safe passage of grain and oilseeds – some of Ukraine’s most important exports.
“The Black Sea Grain Initiative has already moved more than 9.3 million metric tons of grain and brought prices down around the world. It has been a tremendous success and must continue,” the White House statement read.
The leader of the notorious private army known as the Wagner Group says his company will provide facilities for experts to generate “new ideas” to increase Russia’s defense capability.
Russian businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin made the announcement in a statement from his Concord company's official account on Vkontakte, a Russian social media platform.
The group “will provide a comfortable environment for generating new ideas in order to increase the defense capability of Russia, including in the information field. If the project shows its success and relevance, we will consider the need to open more branches," the statement read.
Prigozhin, a close associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin dubbed the president's "chef," said his company would provide free accommodation for inventors, designers and IT specialists, who will be responsible for conducting experiments and coming up with startup ideas.
Negotiations with Russia during its war on Ukraine are a "waste of time," a senior adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Saturday.
The comments came after Moscow suspended its participation in a United Nations-brokered grain export deal. Russia tied its decision to drone strikes on the Crimean city of Sevastopol on Saturday, which it blamed on Kyiv.
“Nuclear blackmail, energy terror, grain blockade…Putin turned food, cold and prices to weapons against the world,” Mikhaylo Podolyak, a key adviser to Zelensky, said in a tweet.
“Putin’s Russia is waging a hybrid war against Europe, taking Africa and Middle East hostage. Proving once again: negotiations with RF [Russian Federation] — a waste of time,” Podolyak continued.
A Russian official at the United Nations said Russia will officially notify UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Saturday about Moscow’s decision to suspend its participation in the Black Sea grain deal.
“After attempt of Ukranian drone attack against Russian military ships ensuring safe functioning of #graindeal which according to Russian MoD’s data was carried out with UK support Russia suspends participation in the deal,” Dmitry Polyanskiy, deputy Russian envoy to the UN, said in a tweet.
“UN SG @antonioguterres will be shortly officially notified,” he added.
Both Ukraine and Britain have denied Russian allegations.
Ukraine's foreign minister rallied other countries to demand Russia “stop its hunger games” after Moscow backed out of a United Nations-brokered grain export deal Saturday.
Russia cited drone attacks on the Crimean city of Sevastopol as reason to indefinitely suspend the deal, blaming the attacks on Kyiv.
“We have warned of Russia’s plans to ruin the Black Sea Grain Initiative. Now Moscow uses a false pretext to block the grain corridor which ensures food security for millions of people,” Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted.
Ukraine’s Ministry of Infrastructure said six vessels containing 180,000 tons of agricultural products had left the country’s ports on Friday, heading for Africa, Asia and Europe. This included the bulk carrier LINA, which contained 25,000 tons of corn for Egypt, the ministry said in a statement.
It added that 403 ships containing 9.1 million tons of products for Asia, Europe and Africa had left Ukrainian ports since the deal was brokered in July.
The United Nations said it is speaking with Russian authorities following Russia's announcement Saturday it would suspend participation from the UN-brokered grain export deal with Ukraine.
"We’ve seen the reports from the Russian Federation regarding the suspension of their participation in the Black Sea Grain Initiative following an attack on the Russian Black Sea Fleet. We are in touch with the Russian authorities on this matter," UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told CNN Saturday.
"It is vital that all parties refrain from any action that would imperil the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which is a critical humanitarian effort that is clearly having a positive impact on access to food for millions of people around the world," Dujarric added.
Ukraine has historically been known as one of the globe’s breadbaskets. The World Food Programme estimated that tens of million people moved into a stage of acute hunger as a consequence of the Ukraine war, and Western officials have accused Russia of using food as a weapon during its invasion.
The Russian foreign ministry said it is suspending its participation in the United Nations-brokered grain deal with Ukraine for an "indefinite period of time," tying the decision to a drone attack in Crimea on Saturday.
"In connection with the actions, which cannot be qualified otherwise than as a terrorist attack, of the Ukrainian armed forces, led by British specialists, directed, among other things, against Russian ships that ensure the functioning of the specified humanitarian corridor, the Russian side cannot guarantee the safety of humanitarian dry-cargo ships participating in the 'Black Sea Initiative,' and suspends its implementation from today for an indefinite period of time," a statement from the foreign ministry read.
Both Ukraine and Britain have rejected Russian allegations, with the United Kingdom saying Russia is “peddling false claims of an epic scale."
The Russian foreign ministry statement added that "corresponding instructions were given to Russian representatives at the Joint Coordination Center in Istanbul, which controls the transportation of Ukrainian grain."
Although Russia blamed Saturday's attack on Sevastopol for suspending its participation in the deal, Moscow has repeatedly threatened to pull out of the agreement in recent weeks.
The deal was set to expire next month.