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Russian authorities made a decision to halt the U.N.-brokered grain deal back in September – not today, according to President Volodymyr Zelensky.
"Russia began deliberately aggravating the food crisis back in September, when it blocked the movement of ships with our (grain)," Zelensky said in his evening video address on Oct. 29.
It was doing so by creating artificial queues of vessels in Ukrainian ports, Zelensky said. According to him, from September to today, 176 vessels carrying over 2 million metric tons of grain can't follow their "grain corridor" route. Some cargo ships have been waiting for more than three weeks.
"This is Russia's absolutely deliberate (move). This is its absolutely transparent intention to start threatening Africa and Asia with large-scale famine again," the president said.
As of Oct. 28, since the start of the U.N.-backed grain deal in July, more than 400 ships carrying 9.1 million metric tons of grain have left Ukrainian ports.
"Why a handful of people somewhere in the Kremlin can decide whether people in Egypt or Bangladesh will have food on their tables? The world has the power to protect people against this," Zelensky said.
Russia suspended its participation in the grain deal on Oct. 29 after what it claims was a drone attack on a minesweeper and a dam in Russian-occupied Sevastopol, a city in Crimea that hosts a Russian naval base.
Last week, Russian authorities declared Moscow was taking issue with some aspects of the agreement, claiming that Russian grain and fertilizer shipments weren't being treated fairly. However, exports of Russian grains and fertilizers are not subject to Western sanctions.