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UPDATE: Russia announced on November 2 that it was rejoining the deal, after receiving written guarantees from Ukraine that the waters and ports used by the grain ships would not be used “for military operations against the Russian Federation.”
The United Nations has hailed the Black Sea Grain Initiative as a success: Secretary-General António Guterres has credited it with bringing down world food prices and averting a global hunger crisis.
The deal, which ended a five-moth blockade of Ukrainian ports, has seen more than 9.2 million tons of grain and other foodstuffs exported from Ukraine, according to the UN. Several ships have gone to areas where hunger has become acute.
But on Saturday, Russia suspended its participation in the deal. Russia accuses Ukraine of attacking ships in the Black Sea, including a minesweeper, that are helping to facilitate the shipment of grain.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry said that Ukraine’s armed forces used “the cover of a humanitarian corridor” to launch massive air and sea strikes and as a result Moscow “cannot guarantee the safety of civilian dry cargo ships participating in the Black Sea Initiative and suspends its implementation from today for an indefinite period,” the Wall Street Journal reported.
Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, called that a false pretext.