Zelenskiy demands firmer defence of Ukraine grains export corridor

  • The Turkish minister hopes that the grain negotiations with Russia will continue
  • Russians attacked Ukrainian infrastructure causing blackouts
  • Civilians were evacuated from other regions of Kherson

KYIV/MYKOLAIV, Ukraine, Nov 2 (Reuters) – Ukraine’s grain export corridor needs long-term protection and the world must respond strongly to Russian attempts to disrupt it, President Volodymyr Zelensky said. Suspend participation in UN-mediated negotiations.

Russia, which invaded Ukraine on February 24, pulled out of the agreement last weekend, saying it could not guarantee the safety of civilian ships because of attacks on its fleet in the Black Sea.

Thanks to the work of Turkey and the United Nations, the main broker of the July 22 grain export deal, ships are leaving Ukrainian ports with cargo, Zelensky said in a video speech late Tuesday.

“But the grain corridor needs reliable and long-term protection,” Zelensky said.

“Russia must make it clear that any move to disrupt our food exports will be met with a strong global response,” Zelensky said. “Clearly tens of millions of lives are at stake here.”

Eight ships carrying agricultural products are expected to pass through the corridor on Thursday, Ukraine’s Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said on Twitter.

One of the global consequences of the war with its neighbor Russia was a food shortage and cost of living crisis in many countries.

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The Grains Agreement was intended to prevent famine and reduce price spikes by supplying world markets with wheat, sunflower oil and fertilizers. The goal was to increase the monthly export of five million tons from Ukraine to the pre-war level.

Under the deal, the U.N. grain and fertilizer export regulator said on Twitter on Tuesday that ships with the cargo are expected to leave Ukrainian ports on Thursday.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar also expressed hope that progress had been made and that negotiations would continue.

Akar said after two phone calls in as many days with Russian President Sergei Shoigu: “We appreciate the available information that we will continue this negotiation.” A response from Russia will come “today or tomorrow,” he said.

Within the framework of the agreement, more than 9.5 million tons of corn, wheat, sunflower products, barley, rapeseed and soybeans were exported. The Istanbul-based Joint Coordination Center (JCC), made up of officials from the United Nations, Turkey, Russia and Ukraine, coordinates ship movements and inspects ships.

POWER FAILURE

Russia fired missiles at cities including the Ukrainian capital Kiev in what President Vladimir Putin said was retaliation for an attack on Russia’s Black Sea fleet last weekend. Ukraine claimed to have shot down most of those missiles, but some hit power plants, cutting off electricity and water supplies.

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On Tuesday evening, Zelensky said that power outages have been reported in nine regions to stabilize power, adding that “energy experts and local authorities are doing everything to shorten the power outages.”

The US condemned the attack on Tuesday and said it had fired about 100 missiles on Monday and Tuesday.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said at a daily press conference that “these Russian attacks, designed to exacerbate human suffering at a time when temperatures are plummeting, are abhorrent.” Russia denies targeting civilians.

KHERSON’S EXPERIENCE

Russia on Tuesday told civilians to leave areas along the east bank of the Dnieper River in Ukraine’s Kherson region, a major extension of evacuation orders that Kiev said amounted to forced evacuations from occupied territories.

Russia had earlier ordered the withdrawal of civilians from pockets of control on the west bank of the river, where Ukrainian forces have been advancing for weeks in a strategic war to capture the city of Kherson.

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Russian-installed officials said Tuesday they were extending the order to a 15-kilometer (9-mile) buffer zone along the east coast. Ukraine considers the eviction from the occupied territory to be a war crime.

The mouth of the Dnieper became one of the most consequential fronts of the war.

Vladimir Saldo, the Russian-based head of the occupied Kherson region, said in a video message that seven cities on the east bank, including the main settlements along the river, would be evacuated.

Also, the Russian-installed authorities in Kherson region announced that the mandatory evacuation of the Kakhovka district near the Nova Kakhovka hydroelectric power station will begin on November 6.

Moscow has accused Kiev of planning to use so-called “dirty bombs” to spread radioactive material or blow up dams to flood towns and villages in Kherson region. Kiev believes that accusations of using such tactics on its own territory do not make sense, but that Russia may be planning such actions to blame Ukraine.

Reuters reports; Written by Peter Graff, Gareth Jones and Grant McCool; Edited by Nick McPhee and Mark Heinrich

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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