Russian diplomat accuses Ukraine of using Black Sea grain corridor for attacks Ship’s crew

MOSCOW, July 21 (Reuters) – Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Vershinin on Friday accused Ukraine of using a grain export corridor in the Black Sea for “terrorist attacks” against Russian interests, including this week’s one on the Crimean Bridge.

Vershinin spoke at a briefing Monday about Russia’s decision to withdraw from the year-old Black Sea Grains Agreement, under which Russia guaranteed safe passage to ships exporting grain from Ukraine’s seaports despite its so-called “special military operation” in Ukraine.

Russia said a parallel memorandum in which it pledged to ease its own food and fertilizer exports had been ignored. Since then, it has been said that ships sailing to Ukraine are presumed to be carrying weapons and their flag countries are considered to be belligerents.

Ukraine has denied using the corridor for military purposes, but Vershinin, without providing any evidence, claimed that there had been several instances of this.

“It was used – as we know and have talked about – to organize terrorist attacks,” he said.

“It was the Crimean Bridge, twice already; It was Sevastopol, remember last October.”

Attacks apparently carried out by naval drones twice severely damaged the 19-kilometer (12-mile) Crimean Bridge, a Russian flagship project that is the only direct link between southern Russia and the Crimean peninsula that Russia seized and annexed from Ukraine in 2014. It was also used to supply Russian troops fighting in southern Ukraine.

Kiev implicitly admitted to carrying out the first attack in October, and Ukrainian media reported this week that Ukrainian security services carried out the second attack.

Also last October, Moscow accused Ukraine of attacking the Russian Black Sea Fleet’s home base in Sevastopol, Crimea, using naval drones that had traveled from Ukraine’s port of Odessa through the safe corridor waters.

It was also said that the ships attacked were involved in ensuring the security of the grain corridor.

(Reporting by Reuters, Edited by Andrew Osborn)

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2023.

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