Russia suspends participation in Ukraine grain export deal

Russia has suspended participation in a UN-brokered deal to export agricultural produce from Ukrainian ports following attacks on ships in Crimea, TASS quoted the defence ministry as saying on Saturday. Follow FRANCE 24's live blog for all the latest developments. All times are Paris time (GMT+2).  

File photo: Sevastopol, the largest city on the Crimean Peninsula and its most important port and naval base, July 15, 2022.
File photo: Sevastopol, the largest city on the Crimean Peninsula and its most important port and naval base, July 15, 2022. © Olga Maltseva, AFP

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10:09pm: Ukraine electricity supplies recovering after Russia attacks says Zelensky

Ukrainian electricity supplies are recovering after concerted Russian attacks on generating plants but emergency blackouts may still be needed, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Saturday.

In recent weeks Russia has focused drone and missile attacks on power facilities across the country, destroying more than 30% of generating capacity, and prompting widespread restrictions.

"Today there are already significantly fewer stabilization (measures) and emergency blackouts ... but restrictions are still possible in some cities and districts," Zelenskiy said in a video address.

8:30pm: EU warns against unilateral actions that would endanger Ukraine grain deal

The European Union supports UN-led efforts to keep the Ukraine grain deal alive, a spokesperson said on Saturday, after Moscow announced it was pulling out of the agreement.

"We ... stress that all parties must refrain from any unilateral 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 around the world," said Nabila Massrali, spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy at the European Commission.

7:14pm: Ukrainian official rules out any deals with Russia as long as war lasts

A top Ukrainian official on Saturday ruled out any deals with Russia as long as the war continued, saying Moscow would use a halt in fighting to regroup its forces and gather resources.

"For Russia, this is a war of destruction -- for us, this is a war for survival. And while they are trying to abolish us as a state and as a nation, any agreements with Russia will be doomed," tweeted Andriy Yermak, the president's chief of staff.

6:09pm: UN urges preservation of Ukraine grain deal

The United Nations on Saturday called for the preservation of an agreement allowing grain exports from war-torn Ukraine after Moscow said it was suspending its participation over drone attacks on Russian ships in Crimea.

"It is vital that all parties refrain from any action that would imperil the Black Sea Grain Initiative which is a critical humanitarian effort," said Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for the UN secretary-general, underscoring the initiative was "having a positive impact" on food access for millions worldwide.

He added that the UN chief's office was in touch with Russian authorities over the issue.

5:54pm: French PM gives no credence to Russian Nord Stream claim UK involved

French Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne said Saturday she gave no credence to Russian military accusations that Britain was involved in the explosions that damaged Russia's Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea in September.

"There is an investigation underway and I give no credence to what was said this morning," she told reporters on the sidelines of a trip to Lisbon, alongside her Portuguese counterpart Antonio Costa.

5:43pm: Ukraine says Moscow is using 'false pretext' to block grain corridor

Ukraine's foreign minister accused Moscow of using a "false pretext" to suspend its participation in the Black Sea grain corridor on Saturday.

"I call on all states to demand Russia to stop its hunger games and recommit to its obligations," Dmytro Kuleba wrote on Twitter. 

5:05pm: Russia says suspends participation in Ukraine grain deal

Russia said on Saturday it was suspending its participation in the agreement that allowed grain exports from Ukraine, blaming alleged drone attacks on Russian ships in Crimea.

"In light of the terrorist act carried out by the Kyiv regime with the participation of British experts against ships of the Black Sea fleet and civilian vessels involved in the security of grain corridors, Russia suspends its participation in the implementation of the agreement on the export of agricultural products from Ukrainian ports," the Russian Defense Ministry announced on Telegram.

3:25pm: Russia says Ukraine hands over 50 prisoners of war

Russia's defence ministry said on Saturday that Ukraine handed over 50 prisoners of war after talks.

Earlier on Saturday, Denis Pushilin, the Moscow-backed head of the Donetsk region – one of four regions of Ukraine that Russia unilaterally proclaimed as its territory last month – also said a prisoner swap with Ukraine was taking place.

He said 50 people from each side were being exchanged.

2:55pm: Britain denies Russian claims that its navy personnel blew up Nord Stream gas pipelines

Britain on Saturday denied Russian claims that British navy personnel blew up the Nord Stream gas pipelines last month, calling them "false claims of an epic scale".

"To detract from their disastrous handling of the illegal invasion of Ukraine, the Russian Ministry of Defence is resorting to peddling false claims of an epic scale," a spokesperson for Britain's ministry of defence said.

"This latest invented story, says more about the arguments going on inside the Russian Government than it does about the West."

1:21pm: Russia accuses UK of being involved in Nord Stream explosions

The Russian army on Saturday accused the UK of being "involved" in explosions on the Nord Stream gas pipelines, saying the same British military specialists had helped Ukraine plan a drone attack on Moscow's Black Sea Fleet. 

"Representatives of this unit of the British Navy took part in the planning, provision and implementation of a terrorist attack in the Baltic Sea on September 26 that blew up the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 gas pipelines," Russia's defence ministry said in a statement. 

1:18pm: Russia blames Ukraine, UK for drone attack on Black Sea Fleet

The Russian army on Saturday accused the UK of helping Ukraine plan a drone attack on its Black Sea Fleet in the Crimean port of Sevastopol, and said that one of its ships suffered "minor" damage.

"The preparation of this terrorist act and the training of the military personnel of the Ukrainian 73rd Special Center for Maritime Operations were carried out under the guidance of British specialists located in the city of Ochakiv in Ukraine's Mykolaiv region," Moscow's defence ministry said in a statement. 

Russia on Saturday said that its ships that were targeted in a drone attack in Crimea's Sevastopol port were involved in a UN-brokered deal to allow the export of Ukrainian grain. 

12:00pm: Recent drone and missile strikes have destroyed 30% of Ukraine's power stations in a week

Scheduled power cuts have been introduced in the Ukrainian capital as Russia has repeatedly targeted the nation's power network. Most major cities have been forced into placing unprecented measures to save electricity. In Kharkiv, the streets are plunged into darkness daily, with time intervals spread between trains to take pressure off the grid.

Faced with little choice, residents turn to power banks to stay connected – but it is often not enough. Elsewhere, private electricity providers in Lviv and Chernyshevsky have introduced schedules to limit electricity consumption of industrial enterprises. 



11:05am: Russia says it has completed civilian evacuation from Kherson

Ever since Russia's top general in Ukraine Sergey Surovikin said that difficult decisions would have to be made regarding Kherson, people in Ukraine have been wondering what he meant by that. One analysis put out by Ukrainian military spokespeople is that Russia may be preparing a scorched-earth policy in Kherson. In the video below, Gulliver Cragg provides more information from Ukraine. 

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko in Brussels on July 13, 2016.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko in Brussels on July 13, 2016. © John Thys, APF



10:24am: Russia will take into account modernisation of US nuclear bombs in Europe

Russia, in its military planning, will take into account the modernisation of US nuclear bombs deployed in Europe, RIA news agency cited Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko.

Earlier this week, Politico, citing a US diplomatic cable and two people familiar with the issue, reported that the United States had accelerated the deployment of its modernised B61-12 tactical nuclear weapons to NATO bases in Europe.

9:00am: Russian navy 'repels' drone attack in Sevastopol bay, says Moscow-installed governor

The Russian navy early Saturday was "repelling" a drone attack in the bay of Sevastopol, home to Moscow's Black Sea Fleet in Moscow-annexed Crimea, a Russian-installed governor said.  

"Ships of the Black Sea Fleet are repelling a UVA (unmanned aerial vehicle) in Sevastopol bay," Sevastopol governor Mikhail Razvozhayev said on Telegram. "No facilities in the city have been hit. The situation is under control."

Earlier this week, Razvozhayev said that a drone had attacked a thermal power station near Sevastopol. 

The Russian fleet stationed in the port had also been attacked by a drone in July. 

The latest announcement came as Ukrainian forces press a counter-offensive to retake land in the country's Russian-occupied south.


© France Médias Monde graphic studio

(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP and REUTERS)

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