218 ships still blocked after Russia suspended grain deal: Ukraine
Ukraine's Infrastructure Ministry says that 218 vessels remain blocked after Russia suspended its participation in the UN-brokered grain deal.
A total of 218 ships that were supposed to sail through the safe corridor under the UN-brokered grain deal remain stuck after Russia suspended its participation, Ukraine's Infrastructure Ministry said on Sunday.
"Due to the fact that as of October 30, the Ukrainian side does not have permission from the Joint Coordination Centre to pass through the safe corridor and conduct inspections, 218 vessels are actually blocked in their current positions," the ministry said on social media.
101 empty ships are awaiting to be inspected at the entrance to the Ukrainian ports, 22 are awaiting departure, and 95 loaded ships that have already left the ports are yet to be inspected before sailing to the final consumer, the ministry noted.
Ukraine's maritime grain exports were halted on Sunday after Russia suspended its participation in a landmark agreement that allowed the vital shipments, following Ukraine’s drone attack on vessels of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol.
Crimea's Sevastopol has been a frequent target and is the headquarters for the Black Sea fleet and a logistical hub for Russian operations.
The Russian Defense Ministry retrieved from the bottom of the sea and examined fragments of drones used to target Russian Black Sea Fleet ships and infrastructure near Odessa, the ministry revealed on Monday.
Russia pointed fingers at UK "specialists" for aiding in the preparation and execution of the strike, in addition to having a hand in explosions that targeted the Nord Stream gas pipelines last month. The UK replied by rejecting the claims, stating that "the Russian Ministry of Defence is resorting to peddling false claims of an epic scale."
Governor of Sevastopol, Mikhail Razvozhayev, said Saturday's drone attack was the "most massive" the area had seen. Calling on people not to panic, city authorities "temporarily" closed the area to boats and ferries.
In response to Russia's suspension of its participation in implementing the agreement, Ukraine responded by calling it a "false pretext", US President Joe Biden called it "purely outrageous," and Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Moscow was "weaponizing food".
Consequently, UN Secretary-General Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric, commented, "It is vital that all parties refrain from any action that would imperil the Black Sea Grain Initiative which is a critical humanitarian effort."
The UN-brokered deal, signed by Turkey, Russia, and Ukraine on July 22, was set to expire on November 19. It established a humanitarian maritime corridor for ships transporting food and fertilizer from the Ukrainian Black Sea ports.
The deal has allowed the moving of over 9 million metric tons of food and "brought prices down around the world," according to Blinken, although the biggest share was going to the EU and not developing countries as the agreement stipulates.