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Russia-Ukraine war live: millions ‘will pay price’ of Russian Black Sea grain deal exit, UN says; two dead in Kerch bridge explosion

Hundreds of millions ‘will pay the price’ of Russia’s withdrawal from Black Sea grain deal, UN says

In a statement, the UN secretary general, António Guterres expressed his “deeply regret” at the Russian Federation’s decision to withdraw from the Black Sea grain deal, saying hundreds of millions of people facing a global cost-of-living crisis “will pay the price”.

In a statement, Guterres said:

I deeply regret the decision by the Russian Federation to terminate the implementation of the Black Sea Initiative – including the withdrawal of Russian security guarantees for navigation in the north-western part of the Black Sea.

This Initiative has ensured the safe passage of over 32m metric tons of food commodities from Ukrainian ports.

The statement added that the Black Sea Initiative, together with the Memorandum of Understanding on facilitating exports of Russian food products and fertilisers, have been essential for global food security.

At a time when the production and availability of food is being disrupted by conflict, climate change, energy prices and more, these agreements have helped to reduce food prices by over 23% since March last year.

Hundreds of millions of people face hunger and consumers are confronting a global cost-of-living crisis. They will pay the price.

Guterres said he sent a letter to Putin with a new proposal to keep the Black Sea Initiative “alive”.

In that letter, he underlined the action the UN has taken to ensure trade has continued during the conflict, including securing the US General Licence 6B and 6C, which he said are especially important in light of the extraterritorial nature of US sanctions and working closely with the key Russian fertiliser groups to unblock assets.

Today’s decision by the Russian Federation will strike a blow to people in need everywhere. Looking ahead, our goal must continue to be advancing global food security and global food price stability.

This will remain the focus of my efforts, taking into account the rise in human suffering that will inevitably result from today’s decision. We will stay fixed on finding pathways for solutions. There is simply too much at stake in a hungry and hurting world.

Key events

Vladimir Putin says Kerch Bridge seriously damaged by ‘terrorist act’

The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, on Monday demanded concrete proposals on ensuring the security of the bridge linking southern Russia to Crimea after an attack in the early hours of the morning that he called a “terrorist act” that had caused serious damage.

Putin was speaking in a televised meeting with officials to assess the consequences of the attack, Reuters reported.

US aid chief, Samantha Power, on Monday announced more than $500m (£380m) in humanitarian assistance during a visit to Ukraine, expressing “grave dismay” with Russia’s decision to suspend its participation in a pact that has allowed the Black Sea grain deal.

She made the aid announcement, first reported by Reuters, at the state emergency services headquarters in the capital, Kyiv, to respond to the needs of Ukrainians affected by the war. (See 14:34)

The aid, which will be provided through the UN and other non-governmental organisation partners, will increase support for those who have been displaced or otherwise affected by the war with emergency food assistance, health care and safe drinking water, among other assistance, according to a statement from the US agency for international development (USAID).

Power said she handed over on Monday an additional $2.3m worth of equipment to help the agency repair the damage inflicted by Russia’s forces on Ukraine’s critical infrastructure.

Power said:

We see what is happening in Ukraine. Russia continues to burn and Ukraine continues to build. It is our privilege … to support our Ukrainian partners as they do that building.

This is a reckless decision that will have profound human consequences, and it’s just another example of Russian callousness and disregard for human lives and livelihoods, not only here in Ukraine but all around the world.

Power also expressed “grave dismay” with Russia’s decision to suspend its participation in a pact that has allowed the Black Sea export of grain from Ukraine for the past year in a deal that aimed to alleviate a global food crisis by allowing Ukrainian grain blocked by the Russia-Ukraine conflict to be exported safely.

Belarus said it downed a Ukrainian drone on the border between the two countries, days after Minsk confirmed the arrival of Russian Wagner fighters on its territory.

The Moscow-allied country said it would house Wagner troops, who spearheaded Russia’s advance in some key battles in Ukraine, after their failed rebellion in Russia last month, AFP reports.

The Belarusian border committee said:

A border security unit on duty on the Dnipro River discovered a drone that had violated the state border from Ukrainian territory.

The drone was used for the reconnaissance of the border area of the Republic of Belarus.

It said the drone was intercepted in the Braginsky area in the south-eastern corner of Belarus, where the Dnipro River flows near the border between the two neighbours.

Border guards had downed the drone into the water using electronic air defence systems, the committee said.

Russian shelling killed two people and wounded 10 in the city of Bilopillia in Ukraine’s northern Sumy region near the border with Russia on Monday, Reuters reports.

On Telegram, Ukraine’s national police said four artillery strikes had been recorded, three of which hit the centre of the town in the Sumy region.

The post said:

A 76-year-old woman and a 74-year-old woman who were on the street at the time died as a result of their injuries.

One of the wounded was in a serious condition, according to the statement.

These claims have not been independently verified.

Hundreds of millions ‘will pay the price’ of Russia’s withdrawal from Black Sea grain deal, UN says

In a statement, the UN secretary general, António Guterres expressed his “deeply regret” at the Russian Federation’s decision to withdraw from the Black Sea grain deal, saying hundreds of millions of people facing a global cost-of-living crisis “will pay the price”.

In a statement, Guterres said:

I deeply regret the decision by the Russian Federation to terminate the implementation of the Black Sea Initiative – including the withdrawal of Russian security guarantees for navigation in the north-western part of the Black Sea.

This Initiative has ensured the safe passage of over 32m metric tons of food commodities from Ukrainian ports.

The statement added that the Black Sea Initiative, together with the Memorandum of Understanding on facilitating exports of Russian food products and fertilisers, have been essential for global food security.

At a time when the production and availability of food is being disrupted by conflict, climate change, energy prices and more, these agreements have helped to reduce food prices by over 23% since March last year.

Hundreds of millions of people face hunger and consumers are confronting a global cost-of-living crisis. They will pay the price.

Guterres said he sent a letter to Putin with a new proposal to keep the Black Sea Initiative “alive”.

In that letter, he underlined the action the UN has taken to ensure trade has continued during the conflict, including securing the US General Licence 6B and 6C, which he said are especially important in light of the extraterritorial nature of US sanctions and working closely with the key Russian fertiliser groups to unblock assets.

Today’s decision by the Russian Federation will strike a blow to people in need everywhere. Looking ahead, our goal must continue to be advancing global food security and global food price stability.

This will remain the focus of my efforts, taking into account the rise in human suffering that will inevitably result from today’s decision. We will stay fixed on finding pathways for solutions. There is simply too much at stake in a hungry and hurting world.

French dairy group Danone is reviewing its legal options after the Russian state took control of its subsidiary in the country, a source close to the matter told Reuters on Monday.

The source said the company would write to the Kremlin and was in contact with French authorities, including the office of the French president, Emmanuel Macron.

The source, who preferred not want to be named, said:

Danone is going to write a letter to the Kremlin and is studying the legal remedies, but in this kind of country, it is not easy to exercise your rights.

According to a decree signed by the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, on Sunday, foreign-owned stakes in Danone Russia, along with beer company Carlsberg’s stake in a local brewer were put under the “temporary management” of government property agency Rosimushchestvo.

The source close to the matter said Danone had been near to an agreement to sell its Russian subsidiary, when news of the decree broke.

Danone learned the news at the same time as everyone else, when the press release from the Russian presidency came out.

The company is very surprised because they had initiated a very organised process to leave the country, involving the local authorities at every key moment.

They were about to close a deal, at least to propose a buyer to the commission in charge. We are talking about a few weeks.

The source did not name the potential buyer.

The source said Danone was reassured that the state takeover was supposed to be temporary, but he added: “The notion of time there is not the same as ours.”

Anton Gerashchenko, Ukraine’s internal affairs ministerial adviser, has tweeted a screenshot from Google Maps that shows the traffic jam for people trying to leave Crimea has reached 10km (6 miles).

According to Google Maps, the traffic jam of those trying to leave crimea has reached 10 kilometers.

Russian Hospitality Union reports that at least 50,000 tourists are currently in Crimea and most of them arrived on their personal vehicles. pic.twitter.com/MrIFlDrhbc

— Anton Gerashchenko (@Gerashchenko_en) July 17, 2023

The UN secretary-general, António Guterres, signaled on Monday that Russia’s withdrawal from the Black Sea grain deal means a related pact between the UN and Moscow to help facilitate Russia’s grain and fertiliser exports was also terminated, Reuters reports.

Guterres told reporters:

Today’s decision by the Russian Federation will strike a blow to people in need everywhere.

Russia ending a deal that allowed the safe Black Sea export of Ukraine grain is an “act of cruelty,” US ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said on Monday, Reuters reports.

She told reporters:

Russia has dealt another blow to the world’s most vulnerable, this time by suspending its participation in the Black Sea grain initiative. This is really another act of cruelty.

China’s UN ambassador, Zhang Jun, expressed hope that all parties involved could find a way forward, specifically mentioning that Russia had concerns.

Zhang said:

We still hope that, you know, by accommodating the concerns of all parties … then we can find a package solution.

Russia’s withdrawal from a deal allowing the safe Black Sea export of Ukraine grain means “the guarantees for the safety of navigation issued by the Russian side will be revoked,” Russia told the UN shipping agency the International Maritime Organization, according to an excerpt from the letter seen by Reuters.

It added:

Proactive necessary actions and response measures to neutralise threats posed by the Kyiv regime in the area will be taken, considering the continued armed provocations thereby and attempts to attack Russian military and civilian objects.

Russia’s decision not to extend the Black Sea grain deal is final and no more talks are planned, state news agency Tass quoted a senior Russian official at the UN as saying on Monday, according to Reuters.

Russia must renew the Black Sea grain initiative and commit to its full implementation, a spokesperson for Britain’s foreign ministry has said.

“By unilaterally forcing the collapse of the [Black Sea grain initiative (BSGI)], Russia has used food as a weapon and is preventing grain reaching those who need it most,” the spokesperson said. “The UK condemns Russia*s blatant attempt to harm the most vulnerable as part of its illegal war. Russia must renew the BSGI and commit to its full implementation.”

The White House has also said that Russia’s suspension of the pact that has allowed the Black Sea export of grain from Ukraine “will worsen food security and harm millions.” White House national security council spokesperson Adam Hodge said:
“We urge the government of Russia to immediately reverse its decision.”

However, the Financial Times reports on apparent Russian frustrations that not enough was done to provide market access to its exports under the terms of the deal.

“Absolutely nothing has been done – I want to stress that. It’s one-way traffic. Not a single point linked to the fact Russia has its own interests has been fulfilled,” Putin said last week. He claimed barriers to Russia’s agricultural exports meant that supplies had not reached the countries that needed them.

David Harland, director of the Geneva-based Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, told the FT: “Russia just felt that it wasn’t getting much in return, and might as well continue to squeeze Ukraine. Turkey could still persuade Russia to resurrect it, as it has a lot of leverage over Moscow. But it would have to lean hard.”

The EU hosts Latin American and Caribbean leaders today hoping to soothe ties strained by deep divisions over trade and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

But despite Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy having addressed summits including the Arab League, the African Union and the G7 by video link, he has been barred from EU-Celac.

The 33 nations of Latin America and the Caribbean have no agreed position on the Ukraine war, and some want to protect ties with Russia or seek a compromise peace deal.

Brazil under Lula has proclaimed itself “neutral” in Russia’s war against Ukraine. He has argued that Kyiv and Moscow share responsibility for the conflict. “The war in the heart of Europe has launched, over the world, uncertainties. And it channels for war purposes resources that were essential for the economy and for social programs,” he said today. “The arms race makes it even more difficult to confront the climate change issue.”

“We have to find a language of consensus,” said Ralph Gonsalves, the prime minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, which holds the Celac presidency, speaking generally. EU officials equally highlighted the struggle to find even the blandest wording that could unite the 60 nations in one statement.

Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia reported that Celac did not want any direct reference to the Ukrainian conflict to appear in the joint declaration produced by the summit of nations.

Despite pressure from Spain, Ukraine was not even mentioned in the final declaration, which simply called for a ‘complete, just and lasting peace throughout the world based on the charter of the United Nations, including the principles of sovereign equality and territorial integrity of the states’.

Italian cardinal Matteo Zuppi, tasked by Pope Francis to help bring peace to Ukraine, will meet US officials later today in Washington as a follow-up to his talks in Kyiv and Moscow, the Vatican has said.

The visit is aimed at promoting peace in Ukraine and supporting “humanitarian initiatives to alleviate the suffering of people who have been hit the hardest and the most fragile, in particular children,” the statement said.

Last month, Zuppi visited Moscow, where he met with the head of Russia’s influential Orthodox church, Patriarch Kirill, and with Russia’s children’s commissioner, Maria Lvova-Belova. Earlier in June, he visited Kyiv and met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Kyiv estimates nearly 19,500 children have been taken to Russia or Russian-occupied Crimea since February 2022, in what it condemns as illegal deportations.
Zuppi said earlier this month that he was working on a “mechanism” that could ensure the return of the children.

Pope Francis’ envoy Cardinal Matteo Zuppi attends a mass in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Moscow on 29 June.
Pope Francis’ envoy Cardinal Matteo Zuppi attends a mass in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Moscow on 29 June. Photograph: Maxim Shemetov/Reuters




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