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    Russia suspends Ukraine grain deal over ship attack claim

    KYIV, UKRAINE (AP) – Russia announced on Saturday that it will immediately suspend its implementation of a United Nations (UN)-brokered grain deal that has seen more than nine million tonnes of grain exported from Ukraine during the war and has brought down soaring global food prices. Ukraine accused Russia of creating a world “hunger games”.

    The Russian Defence Ministry cited an alleged Ukrainian drone attack on Saturday against Russia’s Black Sea Fleet ships moored off the coast of occupied Crimea as the reason for the move. Ukraine has denied the attack, saying that the Russians mishandled their own weapons.

    The Russian declaration came one day after UN chief Antonio Guterres urged Russia and Ukraine to renew the grain export deal, which was scheduled to expire on November 19.

    Guterres also urged other countries, mainly in the West, to expedite the removal of obstacles blocking Russian grain and fertiliser exports.

    The UN chief said the grain deal – brokered by the UN and Turkiye in July – helps “to cushion the suffering that this global cost-of-living crisis is inflicting on billions of people,” his spokesman said.

    Russian Black Sea fleet ships are anchored in one of the bays of Sevastopol, Crimea. PHOTO: AP

    UN officials were in touch with Russian authorities over the announced suspension.

    “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,” said Guterres’ spokesman, Stephane Dujarric.

    Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called the Russian move “predictable.” He accused Moscow of “blockading” ships carrying grain since September.

    Currently, he said, 176 vessels are backed up at sea, carrying more than two million tonnes of food.

    “This is a transparent attempt by Russia to return to the threat of large-scale famine in Africa and Asia,” Zelenskyy said on Saturday in his nightly video address.

    Ukraine’s Foreign Minister, Dmytro Kuleba accused Russia of playing “hunger games” by imperiling global food shipments.

    In Washington, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the suspension was regrettable and urged “all parties to keep this essential, life-saving Initiative functioning.”

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