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Ukraine grain deal: UN says shipments are still going out

October 31, 2022

Russia claims that the Ukrainian grain deal can't implemented without Moscow. But the UN said the initiative was still in force and Ukraine pledged to continue the exports.

A bulk carrier pictured in Odesa earlier in October
Russia also said it was 'unacceptable' for ships to move through the Black Sea security corridorImage: Yulii Zozulia/Photoshot/picture alliance

The UN on Monday said that exports of grain from Ukraine were continuing despite Russia's weekend announcement it had suspended the agreement.

"Our understanding is that the initiative and commitments remain in force," UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths told a UN Security Council meeting in New York.

Russia previously said it was halting its participation in the deal due to the drone attacks on its Black Sea fleet on Saturday.

"We're very encouraged by Russia's assurance ... that it is not pulling out of the initiative ... it is only temporarily suspending activities in the implementation of the initiative," Griffiths added.

Griffiths said twelve ships had left Ukrainian ports on Monday and two were heading for Ukraine to load food.

Russia suspends grain deal over attacks on its fleet

Ukraine to remain 'guarantor' of global food security — Zelenskyy

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Monday he had spoken to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and said Kyiv would fulfill its side of the deal.

"Confirmed Ukraine's commitment to the Grain Deal. We're ready to remain a guarantor of world food safety," Zelenskyy tweeted, while warning that "nuclear blackmail" from Russia should be met with a "tough" response.

No deal without Moscow — Russian UN ambassador

Separately, Russia's UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said that Moscow did not want to allow further exports via the Black Sea and said the agreement "is not to be implemented without us."

"We cannot allow an unimpeded passage of vessels without our inspection," Nebenzia said at a UN Security Council meeting in apparent response to the UN's stance that grain shipments could continue.

On Monday Russia also said it was "unacceptable" for shipping to pass through the Black Sea security corridor.

"The movement of ships along the security corridor is unacceptable, since the Ukrainian leadership and the command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine use it to conduct military operations against the Russian Federation," the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement.

No ships in grain corridor during Black Sea attack — UN

UN representative Griffiths also responded to allegations from Russia that cargo ships could be used to provide cover for military action and said that no vessels involved in the deal were transiting on the night of October 29, when Russia says its vessels in the Bay of Sevastopol in Crimea were attacked.

"None were in the corridor on the night of the 29th of October when the reported attacks took place, and no vessel reported an incident over the weekend," Griffiths said.

US accuses Russia of extortion

State Department spokesperson Ned Price said that Russia's actions were tantamount to extortion at the expense of the developing world.

"What you're describing appears to be either collective punishment or collective extortion," Price told reporters.

Price also voiced concern that global food prices had already risen due to uncertainty over the grain agreement.

kb/dj (dpa, Reuters, AFP)