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Russian authorities in Ukraine’s occupied Kherson blame Kyiv for lower wheat crop

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Russian authorities in Ukraine’s southern city of Kherson on Wednesday accused Kyiv of burning crops and mining fields, and causing a predicted 200,000-tonne drop in the region’s wheat harvest.

“It is not just the burned crops which are lost - the fields... are partly mined,” Russian news agency TASS quoted reported regional Russian occupying administration head Vladimir Saldo as saying.

“The region of Kherson will not be able to harvest 200,000 tonnes of wheat – that’s a lot,” forecast Saldo, saying the overall crop would come down to nearer 1.2 million tonnes from its typical 1.4 million.

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With Ukraine one of the top global supplies of wheat there are fears that Russia sending troops to its neighbor in February is already affecting world food supplies.

The Kherson region - which plays a key role in Ukrainian agriculture production - is almost entirely under Moscow’s control.

But Ukrainian forces have regained some lost ground in the region in recent weeks and have vowed a powerful counter-attack.

Ukrainian authorities have accused Russia of setting fire to crops and also of stealing supplies in occupied zones as well as of blocking exports by sea - allegations Moscow denies.

Delegations from Russia, Ukraine and Turkey were Wednesday engaged in talks in Istanbul designed to break a months-long impasse over grain exports that has seen food prices soar and millions face hunger across the globe.

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