June 7 (Reuters) – A pipeline carrying ammonia fertilizer from Russia via Ukraine, which could be key to the future of the Black Sea Grains Agreement, has been damaged, according to Kyiv and Moscow, potentially disrupting talks surrounding the deal could complicate.
The Russian Defense Ministry said a “Ukrainian sabotage group” blew up a section of the pipeline near the village of Masyutivka in the Kharkiv region on Monday evening. The village is on the front line between Russian and Ukrainian troops.
“There were civilian casualties as a result of this terrorist attack. They were provided with the necessary medical assistance,” the Russian ministry said in a statement.
“Currently, ammonia residues are being blown out of the damaged sections of the pipeline from Ukrainian territory. There are no casualties among Russian soldiers.”
Oleh Sinehubov, the governor of Ukraine’s Kharkiv region, gave a different version of events. In a statement published on Telegram, he said Russian troops shelled the pipeline.
Six Russian shells fell near a pumping station near Masyutivka around 17:45 (14:45 GMT) on Tuesday, almost 24 hours after Moscow claimed Ukraine had blown up the same pipeline, he said.
Reuters could not independently verify the Russian and Ukrainian claims.
Resuming supplies via the Togliatti-Odesa pipeline, the world’s longest ammonia pipeline, could be key to renewing the Black Sea Grain Export Agreement. The pipeline has been closed since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022 as part of a so-called “special military operation”.
Russia has repeatedly expressed doubts about whether it will further extend the United Nations-Turkey-brokered grain deal that facilitates agricultural exports from Ukraine across the Black Sea.
Among the conditions for the renewal set by Moscow is the reopening of the Tolyatti-Odessa pipeline.
Moscow has announced it will limit the number of ships allowed to go to Ukraine’s Pivdennyi port near Odessa under the deal until the pipeline is put back into service.
In a briefing on Wednesday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said repairing the damaged section of the pipeline would take between one and three months.
“The ammonia pipeline was one of the pivotal points in the implementation of the agreements reached in Istanbul on July 22nd. It was the key to global food security,” said Zakharova.
(Reporting by Reuters; Text by Felix Light/Andrew Osborn, Editing by Jon Boyle, Jason Neely and Gareth Jones)
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