Russia’s declaration on Saturday that it would back out of a deal allowing the transfer of grain from Ukrainian ports was “outrageous,” according to the United States, which also said Moscow was using food as a weapon.
Following his polling error in the US midterm elections, President Biden told reporters in Delaware on Saturday that “it’s simply awful to increase famine.”
His secretary of state, Antony J. Blinken, warned that lower-income countries that had been dependent on Ukrainian exports like wheat, maize, and sunflower oil would be particularly hard hit by Russia’s move.
According to Blinken, “by suspending this agreement, Russia is once again turning food into a weapon in the conflict it launched, directly affecting low- and middle-income nations and the price of food globally and escalating existing terrible humanitarian problems and food insecurity.” Therefore, we urge all stakeholders to maintain the viability of this vital effort.
Through the grain agreement, which the UN and Turkey mediated in July, commercial ships transporting agricultural products were able to leave Ukraine and go across the Black Sea to Turkey.
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The safety of Russia’s ships participating in the initiative was threatened by Ukrainian attacks on its Black Sea Fleet’s ships and infrastructure, including drone strikes that damaged a mine-sweeping vessel in the port of Sevastopol, the country said on Saturday.
As a result, Russia said it might suspend its participation in the agreement indefinitely.
As of Thursday, the agreement has been used to export hundreds of thousands of tons of grain and other supplies. The UN secretary general’s spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric, urged the opposition to ensure the continuation of the grain agreement, officially known as the Black Sea Grain Initiative, calling it “a key humanitarian initiative.”
President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine asked for “a robust international reaction” to the suspension of grain exports, particularly from the G20 leaders meeting in Indonesia in the middle of November.