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Russia | The Guardian: Russia-Ukraine war live: US accuses Russia of ‘weaponising food’ after Moscow suspends grain deal

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Antony Blinken urges continuation of pact that has reduced soaring global food prices while Joe Biden calls Russian move ‘purely outrageous’

The United States has accused Russia of ‘weaponising food’ after Moscow announced it was immediately suspending its implementation of a UN-brokered grain deal that has seen more than 8m tonnes of grain exported from Ukraine during the war and brought down soaring global food prices.

Associated Press reported that the Russian defence ministry cited an alleged Ukrainian drone attack on Saturday against Russia’s Black Sea Fleet ships moored off the coast of occupied Crimea as the reason for the move.

Any act by Russia to disrupt these critical grain exports is essentially a statement that people and families around the world should pay more for food or go hungry. In suspending this arrangement, Russia is again weaponising food in the war it started, directly impacting low- and middle-income countries and global food prices, and exacerbating already dire humanitarian crises and food insecurity.

The Russian government has written to the United Nations saying it is indefinitely suspending the Black Sea grain deal that allowed vital exports of Ukrainian food supplies. Moscow also requested a related meeting of the UN security council in New York on Monday. The US president, Joe Biden, said Russia’s actions were outrageous.

The UN secretary general urged Russia and Ukraine to renew the grain deal that has seen more than 8m tonnes of grain exported from Ukraine and brought down global food prices. The agreement between Ukraine and Russia was due to expire on 19 November.

Britain’s Ministry of Defence said Russia’s defence ministry was “peddling false claims of an epic scale” after Moscow accused the British navy of a “terrorist attack” on Nord Stream gas pipelines and claimed British “specialists” aided a drone attack in Sevastopol. Britain’s MoD said: “This latest invented story says more about the arguments going on inside the Russian government than it does about the west.”

Ukrainian electricity supplies were recovering after concerted Russian attacks on generating plants but emergency blackouts may still be needed, Volodymyr Zelenskiy said. “Today there are already significantly fewer stabilisation [measures] and emergency blackouts … but restrictions are still possible in some cities and districts.”

The European Union has frozen Russian assets worth about €17bn (£14.6bn or $17bn) since Moscow invaded Ukraine, according to the EU justice commissioner, Didier Reynders.

Up to 100 prisoners of war have reportedly been exchanged between Russia and Ukraine. Russia’s defence ministry said on Saturday that Ukraine handed over 50 prisoners of war after talks. The Ukrainian armed forces account posted on Telegram that “52 Ukrainians returned home” during another “exchange of prisoners”.

The Ukrainian presidential aide Mykhailo Podolyak has expressed scepticism about the takeover of Twitter by Elon Musk. The billionaire and Tesla boss drew fury from Kyiv and praise from Moscow this month when he posted a Twitter poll proposing Ukraine permanently cede Crimea to Russia, that referendums be held under UN auspices on the fate of Russian-controlled territory, and that Ukraine agree to neutrality.

Russian-backed forces say they have finished a pull-out of civilians from the key southern Ukrainian city of Kherson. The city had a population of about 288,000 people before the war and was one of the first to fall to Moscow’s troops after the February invasion. A Russian-installed official in Kherson said at least 70,000 people had left their homes in the space of a week.

A mobile phone app has been developed by Ukrainian volunteers to allow civilians to report sightings of incoming Russian drones and missiles – and, it is hoped, increase the proportion shot down before they hit the ground. The app, ePPO, relies on a phone’s GPS and compass, and a user only has to point their device in the direction of the incoming object and press a button for it to send a location report to the military.

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Russia | The Guardian

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