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Moscow Warns Ukraine Against Shipping Grain Across the Black Sea Without Its Consent


The Kremlin warned Ukraine on Tuesday against trying to export its grain across the Black Sea, after President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine called for international support to continue the shipments despite Russia’s withdrawal from a landmark wartime agreement.

The warning came a day after Russia, whose navy exercises a de facto blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, unilaterally terminated a year-old agreement brokered by Turkey and the United Nations under which Ukraine had been able to ship its grain via sea to Istanbul and beyond. That decision put pressure on global grain markets and also raised fears that hunger in some countries in Africa and the Middle East could grow more serious.

In an overnight speech, Mr. Zelensky said that he had sent letters to the secretary general of the United Nations, António Guterres, and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey proposing that Ukraine continue to ship its grain, calling its exports “necessary for everyone in the world.”

“The only thing that is needed now is its careful implementation and decisive pressure from the world on the terrorist state,” Mr. Zelensky added, referring to Russia.

The Kremlin’s spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, said that such a course would carry risks, and suggested that vessels traveling through the Black Sea without its consent would be in danger.

“We are talking about a zone that is very close to the area of armed hostilities. Certain risks emerge there without appropriate security guarantees,” Mr. Peskov said.

He also accused the government in Kyiv of using the zone covered by the deal “for military purposes,” without elaborating. A day earlier, Russia said it had pulled out of the deal on the grounds that its demands over its own exports of food and fertilizers had not been met.

Mr. Guterres said on Monday that he was “deeply disappointed” by Moscow’s decision. Millions of people who face hunger, or are struggling, as well as consumers around the world facing a cost of living crisis, will “pay a price,” the U.N. chief said.

Ukraine and its allies consider Russia’s effective blockade of the Black Sea to be illegal. Ukraine is a major exporter of grain and a substantial cut in its exports could also further damage the country’s economy, already struggling to weather the effects of Russia’s full-scale invasion.


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