Russia Moves to Pull Out of Ukraine Grain Deal After Blasts Hit Crimean Port

Russia said on Saturday it would temporarily suspend participation in the export of agricultural products from Ukrainian ports in response to an attack on the occupied Black Sea port of Sevastopol.

The defense ministry said in a statement published on Telegram that Black Sea fleets and civilian vessels involved in securing the so-called grain corridor were under attack. As a result, “the Russian side has temporarily suspended the implementation of contracts for the export of agricultural products from Ukrainian ports,” the statement said.

Ukrainian officials have kept quiet about the attack, the first to hit Crimea since the Kerch Strait bridge linking the peninsula to the Russian mainland was severely damaged earlier this month. Moscow accused the Ukrainian intelligence service of being behind the blast.

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Defense Ministry spokesman Lt. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said Saturday’s attack involved nine aerial drones and seven maritime drones. The air attack was repulsed, but the sea minesweeper Ivan Golubets suffered minor damage, as did some defensive infrastructure in Yuzhnaya Bay, one of Sevastopol’s port ports.

Russian-installed officials said air defenses shot down several drones, including an unmanned surface drone, in the waters near Sevastopol in the early hours of the morning.

The Russian-installed governor of Sevastopol, Mikhail Razvoshaev, wrote on his Telegram messaging channel that there was minimal damage to civilian infrastructure, but city services were on alert. He urged the city’s residents not to publicize videos or information about the attack that would help Ukrainian forces “understand how our city’s defenses are built.”

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Ukrainian officials have not claimed responsibility for previous explosions in Crimea, including a drone attack on the headquarters of the Black Sea Fleet in August – but have been rejoicing and have vowed to retake the peninsula, which was seized by Russia in 2014.

Crimea has served as a rearguard for Moscow’s military occupation of a region in southern Ukraine, where Kiev’s forces are now trying to drive Russian forces out of part of the Kherson region.

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In April, Russia’s Black Sea fleet’s flagship was hit and sunk by a pair of Ukrainian missiles in a major blow to Moscow.

The 12,000-ton missile cruiser Moskva was severely damaged in the Black Sea south of Odessa and later sank while being towed to the Crimea for repairs.

With winter approaching, both sides are scrambling for gains before harsh weather makes combat operations even more difficult.

In recent weeks, Russia has pounded Ukraine’s power infrastructure with cruise missiles and Iranian-made drones, while mobilizing 300,000 people for its campaign. That’s twice the number that reached the Ukrainian border at the start of the invasion in February, according to US officials.

In Luch, a village near the Kherson front line, a resident plays with her dog in the basement where she lived during the war.


Photo:

For Virginie NGUYEN HOANG Vai

Volunteers distribute humanitarian aid in the village.


Photo:

For Virginie NGUYEN HOANG Vai

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Friday that 82,000 newly conscripted men have been sent to Ukraine since a Sept. 21 mobilization decree, while the rest are in training.

No further fundraising is planned, Mr Shoigu said. But Ukrainian officials are skeptical that the new arrivals will change the battlefield.

“Although Russia is trying to increase the pressure on our positions with armed people, they are very poorly prepared and equipped, so the command is used mercilessly, which allows us to suggest that Russia will soon need a new wave of sending people to the war. “Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a speech on Friday night.

Some of the newly mobilized troops have been deployed to the southern Kherson region, where Ukrainian forces have been working for months to cut off Russian forces on the west bank of the Dnipro River.

A worker at a Ukrainian power plant repairs equipment damaged by a missile attack.


Photo:

Sergey Supinsky/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

The remains of a house in the southern village of Luch, often shelled.


Photo:

For Virginie NGUYEN HOANG Vai

Ukraine has repeatedly hit bridges across the river, ammunition depots and logistics centers with US-supplied long-range rocket systems.

The commander of Russian troops in Ukraine, Gen. Sergey Zurovykin, acknowledged that the position in Kherson was challenging and that “difficult decisions” might have to be made, without elaborating.

Russian-backed officials in Kherson began telling residents to leave the city earlier this month in what they said was preparation for a Ukrainian offensive. The evacuation of civilians has been completed, Kirill Stremosov, deputy head of the Russian-installed administration in the Kherson region, said on Friday.

According to military analysts, the strain on supply lines means Russian forces will not be able to hold Kherson for long. But Ukrainian officials acknowledge that the cost of retaking the city could be the loss of weapons, infrastructure and lives—both military and civilian.

Meanwhile, a Russian Defense Ministry spokesman on Saturday accused the British navy of being responsible for the sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines in late September. Western governments have found that Nord Stream and a parallel pair of pipelines have been scuttled, Nord Stream 2. Investigations are ongoing. Some German officials said they were working under the assumption that Russia was behind the blasts.

The UK Ministry of Defense said In a tweet Saturday: “The Russian Defense Ministry is making false claims of an epic scale to distract from its disastrous handling of the illegal occupation of Ukraine. This invented story says more about the arguments going on inside the Russian government than the West.

Write Isabel Coles at [email protected] and Ann M. and Simmons at [email protected]

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