KYIV, UKRAINE – On Monday, ships brought grain from Ukrainian signaling Moscow had stopped short of reimposing a blockade that might have caused world hunger even while suspending its participation in a U.N. programme to safely export grain from the war zone.
The resumption of food exports from Ukrainian ports suggested that at least one dire scenario had been averted for now. International officials had feared that Moscow would reimpose a blockade on Ukrainian grain, after Russia announced on Saturday that it was suspending its role in the U.N.-backed programme that escorts cargo ships through the Black Sea.
Over the weekend, Russia said it was suspending its participation in a United Nations-brokered deal to secure the export of Ukrainian grain out though the Black Sea. According to Russia’s Foreign Ministry, Moscow exited the grain deal for an “undetermined period.”
Moscow said it was forced to pull out of the Black Sea grain shipping deal after blaming Kyiv for blasts that damaged Russian navy ships in the Crimean port of Sevastopol on Saturday.
Ukraine has neither confirmed nor denied it was behind the explosions that hit the Crimea base of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, but says Russia’s navy is a legitimate military target. Moscow said the blasts were caused by a wave of sea and air drones.
After Russia suspended its participation in the grain shipping programme, the United States accused Russia of using food as a weapon. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Moscow was “blackmailing the world with hunger”. Russia denies that is its aim.
Authorities in Kyiv accused Moscow of creating a “false pretext” to block the grain corridor.
In recent weeks, Russia had threatened to exit the deal over complaints the agreement had opened up Ukrainian grain shipments but failed to live up to promises to allow the export of Russian fertilizer and food products.
The U.N. has called on both parties to refrain from imperiling a deal that provided food to millions around the globe. More than 9 million tons of grain and other food products have been exported under the deal, contributing to lower prices of wheat and other commodities, the U.N. says.