Russia blames Ukraine for attack on Saturday; calls grow for Moscow to rejoin grain deal as US accuses Kremlin of weaponising food
Russia’s defence ministry said it has recovered and analysed the wreckage of drones used to attack ships of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in Crimea yesterday.
The ministry said its analysis showed that the drones were equipped with Canadian-made navigation modules for an attack that it said was carried out by Ukraine under British leadership, a claim Britain has denied.
Russia annexed Crimea in 2014.
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Sunday that Ukrainian forces fended off a “fierce offensive” by Russian troops in the Donetsk region, Reuters reports.
Without mentioning where the confrontation took place, Zelenskiy said the Russian troops were repelled by a military unit from Chop, a city in western Ukraine. Located in the east, Donetsk is one of four Ukrainian regions Russia proclaimed as its own territory last month.
“Today they stopped the fierce offensive actions of the enemy,” Zelenskiy said during his nightly address. “The Russian attack was repelled.”
Zelenskiy added Ukraine’s “exchange fund” was replenished, referring to the capture of Russian soldiers.
The United Nations, Turkey and Ukraine agreed on an October 31 movement plan for 14 vessels that are in Turkish waters, Reuters reports.
The Sunday announcement comes after Russia withdrew from the UN-brokered Black Sea grain initiative, an agreement that established a safe corridor for food exports from Ukrainian ports.
The Istanbul-based Joint Coordination Centre – which includes representatives from Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and the UN – said in a statement that the three delegations also agreed on inspections of 40 outbound vessels to be carried out on Monday.
Today’s developments so far:
Russia’s withdrawal from the UN-brokered Black Sea grain initiative drew international condemnation.
The US and Nato accused Russia of weaponising food. The European Union urged Moscow to reverse its decision.
UN secretary general António Guterres delayed his travel to the Arab League summit in Algiers by a day to focus on the issue.
Turkey’s defence minister is in talks with his Russian and Ukrainian counterparts to try and revive the deal, the ministry said.
Russia’s move to suspend its participation in the Black Sea corridor agreement resulted in a total of 218 vessels being “effectively blocked”, Ukraine’s infrastructure ministry said.
Wheat futures are expected to leap on Monday as Moscow’s decision threatens Ukrainian exports, analysts said.
Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska made a video appearance at a demonstration in Prague, which saw tens of thousands of Czechs voicing their support for Ukraine.
Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov drew parallels between the Ukraine war and the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, stating that Russia is now under threat from western weapons in Ukraine.
Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov on Sunday expressed “hope” that the US president, Joe Biden, will recall the 1962 Cuban missile crisis when dealing with the war in Ukraine, Reuters reports.
In an interview for a Russian state television documentary, Lavrov said there were “similarities” between the ongoing war in Ukraine and the 1962 confrontation, primarily because Russia is now under threat from western weapons in Ukraine.
The tense cold war-era standoff unfolded when US president John F Kennedy found the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev to have deployed nuclear missiles on Cuba – a defining moment widely considered to be the closest the US and the Soviet Union have come to a nuclear war.
“I hope that in today’s situation, president Joe Biden will have more opportunities to understand who gives orders and how,” Lavrov said. “This situation is very disturbing.”
“The difference is that in the distant 1962, Khrushchev and Kennedy found the strength to show responsibility and wisdom, and now we do not see such readiness on the part of Washington and its satellites,” he continued.
Lavrov added the “readiness” of Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin, for negotiations “remains unchanged.”
Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska made a video appearance at a rally in Prague, Czech Republic, which on Sunday drew tens of thousands of Czechs who voiced their support for Ukraine, Reuters reports.
Speaking in Ukrainian, Zelenska encouraged people not to look away from the war.
“We will not let Russia drag us or the whole world into darkness,” she said. “Darkness will never win. As long as people don’t close their eyes to war, our light will never go out.”
The Czech demonstration, which protested rising populist and extremist sentiment, was held by political organisation A Million Moments for Democracy. The group’s founders told demonstrators that, in spite of fears over the energy crisis fuelled by the war in Ukraine, democracy remains at stake.
Sunday’s protest took place in the same location where, two days prior, another rally was held by a coalition of far-right groups, fringe movements and the Communist party, during which organisers who oppose Nato and the European Union called for direct talks with Russia about gas supplies.
Wheat futures are expected to leap on Monday as Russia’s withdrawal from a Black Sea corridor agreement puts Ukrainian exports at risk, analysts said.
Wheat markets have been very sensitive to developments in Moscow’s eight month-old invasion of Ukraine, as both countries are among the world’s largest wheat exporters, Reuters reports. Ukraine is also a major corn supplier.
The establishment of the corridor, which allowed over 9m tonnes of grain and oilseed commodities to be shipped from Ukrainian ports, helped to steady grain markets and curb global prices after they hit record levels.
That relative calm is likely to end when Chicago and Paris wheat, the world’s two most-active wheat futures contracts, start their trading week on Monday.
“Russia’s announcement is certainly bullish for prices and the start of the week is very likely to see prices climb, simply because less grain is going to come out of Ukraine,” Arthur Portier of consultancy Agritel told Reuters.
A total of 218 vessels are “effectively blocked” due to Russia’s decision to suspend its participation in a grain export deal, Ukraine’s infrastructure ministry said on Sunday, Reuters reports.
Russia said on Saturday it suspended participation in the UN-brokered deal to export agricultural produce from Ukrainian ports following attacks on its fleet in Russian-annexed Crimea.
As Ukraine did not have permits from the scheme’s joint coordination centre to pass through the safe corridor, “218 vessels are …blocked in their current positions,” the ministry said via the Telegram messaging app.
The ministry said 95 loaded vessels that had left Ukrainian ports were awaiting inspection for shipment to the final consumer, and 101 empty ones awaited inspection at the entrance to Ukrainian ports.
It said 22 ships with agricultural goods were waiting to leave Ukrainian ports.
Ukraine has said the deal, which unblocked three Black Sea ports, has allowed it to export around 9m tonnes of agricultural cargo so far.
Today’s developments so far:
There has been international condemnation of Russia’s decision to suspend the UN-brokered Black Sea grain initiative, a move described by the US president, Joe Biden, as “purely outrageous” and which would increase starvation.
The US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, said Russia was weaponising food.
The European Union called on Russia to reverse its decision. “Russia’s decision to suspend participation in the Black Sea deal puts at risk the main export route of much needed grain and fertilisers to address the global food crisis caused by its war against Ukraine,” EU foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said on Twitter.
The UN secretary-general, António Guterres, is “deeply concerned” about the Black Sea grain deal and has delayed his travel to Algiers for the Arab League summit by a day to focus on the issue. a spokesperson said.
Nato called on Moscow to urgently renew the deal. Nato spokesperson Oana Lungescu said: “President Putin must stop weaponising food and end his illegal war on Ukraine.”
Turkey’s defence minister is in talks with counterparts in Moscow and Kyiv to try to revive the UN- brokered deal for exports of Ukrainian grain, the ministry said on Sunday.
Russia’s defence ministry claimed it had recovered and analysed the wreckage of drones used to attack ships from Russia’s Black Sea fleet in Crimea on Saturday. It claims that the drones were equipped with Canadian-made navigation.
The ministry has said Ukraine attacked the Black Sea fleet near Sevastopol with 16 drones early on Saturday, and that British navy “specialists” had helped coordinate what it called a terrorist attack, a claim Britain has denied.
Ukrainian officials have suggested that Russia itself may have been responsible for the explosions, which it has used as a pretext to pull out of the grain deal.
Poland said that together with its European Union partners it is ready to provide Ukraine with further help in the transportation of essential goods after Russia pulled out of the grain deal.
The Russian army repelled attacks by Ukrainian forces in the Kharkiv, Kherson and Luhansk regions, Russian news agencies cited the defence ministry as saying on Sunday.
Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific airways will resume using Russian airspace on some flights, the airline said on Sunday, restarting flights it had stopped after Moscow invaded Ukraine in February. Cathay Pacific will begin flying from New York to Hong Kong using the popular “polar route” from Tuesday.
Turkey’s defence minister is in talks with counterparts in Moscow and Kyiv to try to revive the UN–brokered deal for exports of Ukrainian grain, the ministry said on Sunday.
Reuters reports that Hulusi Akar has asked parties to avoid any “provocation” that could affect the continuation of the deal, it said in a statement.
“The inspection of grain-laden vessels waiting in front of Bosphorus will continue today and tomorrow,” the statement said.
Moscow suspended its participation in the Black Sea deal on Saturday, effectively cutting shipments from Ukraine, one of the world’s top grain exporters, in response to what it called a Ukrainian drone attack on its fleet.
The UN secretary general, António Guterres, is “deeply concerned” about the Ukraine Black Sea grain deal and has delayed his travel to Algiers for the Arab League Summit by a day to focus on the issue, a UN spokesperson said on Sunday.
Reuters reports that UN spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said in a statement:
The secretary-general continues to engage in intense contacts aiming at the end of the Russian suspension of its participation.
The same engagement also aims at the renewal and full implementation of the initiative to facilitate exports of food and fertiliser from Ukraine, as well as removing the remaining obstacles to the exports of Russian food and fertiliser.
The BBC has published a detailed analysis of how much food has been shipped from Ukraine since the UN deal was brokered.
The first shipment left on 1 August after Russia lifted its naval blockade of Ukraine allowing ships to use a safe corridor through the Black Sea.
Millions of tonnes of grain and foodstuffs like maize and sunflower oil had been stuck in Ukraine after the Russian invasion.
As of 24 October, more than 8.6m tonnes of grain and other foodstuffs had been shipped from Ukrainian ports, according to the UN.
Although some foodstuffs have gone directly to the poorest countries in the world, UN figures show that the biggest quantities have at least been initially shipped to Spain, Turkey, Italy, China and Netherlands. The UN said in September that just under 30% had gone to lower-income countries, while 44% had been shipped to high-income countries.
But the UN notes that grain that reaches a destination may well be processed and then shipped on somewhere else.
You can find the BBC analysis here: