UN rejects Russia claim that grain ship involved in Black Sea attack

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The head of the UN humanitarian agency on Monday dismissed a Russian claim that a civilian cargo ship carrying Ukrainian grain may have been involved in a drone strike against Russia.

Martin Griffiths told the Security Council in New York that at the time of the attack on Saturday, no such ships were in the grain corridor “safe zone” in the Black Sea through which vital shipments from Ukraine have passed under a deal aimed at easing a global food crisis.

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“No vessel reported an incident over the weekend,” he added.

“The corridor is just lines on a chart: When Initiative vessels are not in the area, the corridor has no special status. It provides neither cover nor protection for offensive or defensive military action,” Griffiths continued.

Moscow on Sunday pulled out of the UN-brokered grain deal after its Black Sea Fleet in Russian-annexed Crimea was targeted by the drone attack.

“The marine drones were moving in the safe zone of the ‘grain corridor’,” Russia’s defense ministry said, adding it had “lifted” some of the drone debris from the sea.

One of the drones may have been launched “from aboard one of the civilian ships chartered by Kyiv or its Western masters for the export of agricultural products from the seaports of Ukraine,” it said.

The Russian ambassador reiterated the accusation on Monday before the Security Council.

Despite Moscow’s withdrawal from the agreement, cargo ships loaded with grain and other agricultural products left Ukrainian ports on Monday with the support of the United Nations and Turkey.

The Kremlin said it would be “dangerous” to enforce the agreement without its involvement.

Russia “cannot allow an unimpeded passage of vessels without our inspection,” the country’s UN ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told the council.

“And we will have to undertake our own measures to control what was allowed by the Joint Coordination Center without our consent,” he said.

Read more: Russia suspends role inspecting grain ships in Istanbul: JCC

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