Vladimir Putin has been told by Britain not to stop vital grain supplies reaching the world’s hungry,
On Saturday, the Russian defence ministry announced the suspension of the vital UN-brokered grain export deal which has seen more than nine million tons exported from Ukraine and brought down global food prices.
The ministry cited an alleged Ukrainian drone attack against Russia’s Black Sea Fleet ships moored off the coast of occupied Crimea as the reason for the move. Ukraine has denied the attack which Moscow said took place early on Saturday.
Following the decision by the Russian government, Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, said: “The UN Black Sea Grain Initiative is instrumental to global food security.
“Russia should allow grain exports to reach the world’s hungry.”
According to the Russian-installed governor of Sevastopol, Mikhail Razvozhaev, “ships of the Black Sea Fleet repelled a drone attack in the waters of the Sevastopol Bay” - this has not been verified by any other source.
Ukraine’s foreign minister has said Russia was "using a false pretext" to justify the move to suspend the grain deal.
The Russian declaration came a day after UN chief, Antonio Guterres, urged Russia and Ukraine to extend the agreement.
Mr Guterres also urged other countries, mainly in the West, to expedite the removal of obstacles blocking Russian grain and fertiliser exports.
The UN chief underlined the urgency of renewing the deal brokered by the United Nations and Turkey in July, which expires on November 19, "to contribute to food security across the world, and to cushion the suffering that this global cost-of-living crisis is inflicting on billions of people", his spokesman said.
He added that UN officials were in touch with Russian authorities over the announced suspension.
"It is vital that all parties refrain from any action that would imperil the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which is a critical humanitarian effort that is clearly having a positive impact on access to food for millions of people," said spokesman, Stephane Dujarric.
Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, said that before Moscow discusses a renewal, "Russia needs to see the export of its grain and fertilisers in the world market, which has never happened since the beginning of the deal".
Despite his comments, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, said his country had "warned of Russia's plans to ruin" the deal.