Russia rejoins deal on wartime Ukrainian grain exports

Nov 1, 2022, 3:16 PM | Updated: Nov 2, 2022, 3:18 pm
Cargo ships anchored in the Marmara Sea await to cross the Bosphorus Straits in Istanbul, Turkey, T...

Cargo ships anchored in the Marmara Sea await to cross the Bosphorus Straits in Istanbul, Turkey, Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2022. Turkey's defense minister urged Russia to "reconsider" its decision to suspend the implementation of the U.N. and Turkish-brokered grain deal in a telephone call Monday with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

(AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russia agreed Wednesday to rejoin a wartime agreement that allows Ukrainian grain and other commodities to be shipped to world markets. The U.N.’s refugee chief, meanwhile, put the number of Ukrainians driven from their homes since the Russian invasion eight months ago at around 14 million.

It is “the fastest, largest displacement witnessed in decades,” said Filippo Grandi, who heads the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

In announcing that Russia would rejoin the grain pact, President Vladimir Putin said Moscow had received assurances that Ukraine would not use the humanitarian corridors to attack Russian forces. He warned that Russia reserves the right to withdraw again if Kyiv breaks its word.

Putin praised Turkey’s mediation efforts to get the deal back on track, as well as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s “neutrality in the conflict as a whole” and his efforts at “ensuring the interest of the poorest countries.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he also thanked Erdogan on Wednesday, “for his active participation in maintaining the grain agreement, and his unwavering support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.”

Russia had suspended its participation in the grain deal over the weekend, citing an alleged drone attack against its Black Sea fleet in Crimea.

Ukraine did not claim responsibility for an attack, and Zelenskyy said Wednesday that Moscow’s return to the agreement showed “Russian blackmail did not lead to anything.”

Erdogan said shipments would resume Wednesday, prioritizing those to African nations, including Somalia, Djibouti and Sudan. That’s in line with Russia’s concerns that much of the exported grain had ended up in richer nations, since Moscow and Kyiv made separate agreements with Turkey and the U.N. in July.

U.N. humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths said Monday that 23% of the cargo exported from Ukraine under the grain deal went to lower- or lower-middle-income countries, which also received 49% of all wheat shipments.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres hailed Russia’s announcement, and a spokesman said Guterres “remains committed to removing the remaining obstacles to the exports of Russian food and fertilizer.”

Ukraine and Russia are major global exporters of wheat, barley, sunflower oil and other food to developing countries. A loss of those supplies before the grain deal had pushed up global food prices, led to soaring energy costs, and helped throw tens of millions into poverty.

The July agreement brought down global food prices about 15% from their peak in March, according to the U.N. After the announcement Wednesday that Russia would rejoin the deal, wheat futures prices erased increases seen Monday, dropping more than 6% in Chicago.

Meanwhile, in Kyiv, the local power-grid operator said electricity had been restored after a wave of Russian drone and artillery strikes had targeted energy infrastructure. About 300,000 households reportedly got their power back, but local authorities called for controlled blackouts to reduce strain on the system.

Grandi, the U.N. refugee official, noted that Ukrainians are about to face “one of the world’s harshest winters in extremely difficult circumstances.”

He said those include the continuing destruction of civilian infrastructure, which is “quickly making the humanitarian response look like a drop in the ocean of needs.”

Grandi said the 14 million Ukrainian refugees had increased the overall number of displaced people worldwide to more than 103 million.

Power outages also were reported in the southern cities of Nikopol and Chervonohryhorivka after “a large-scale drone attack,” Dnipropetrovsk Gov. Valentyn Reznichenko said. The two cities lie across the Dnieper River from the huge Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.

Russia and Ukraine have traded blame for months for shelling at and around the plant that the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog warned could cause a radiation emergency. In a development easing some fears, Ukraine’s state nuclear company Energoatom, said the plant has been reconnected to the country’s power grid after shelling forced it to rely on generators to cool spent nuclear fuel.

The plant is held by Russian forces, but Ukrainian staff continues to run it.

The company also said Russian soldiers have cordoned off the plant’s spent nuclear-fuel storage facility and began unspecified construction there. “They don’t let anyone in, they don’t report anything,” the company said.

Russian shelling continued in southern and eastern Ukraine, causing at least four civilian deaths between Tuesday and Wednesday, according to Zelenskyy’s office.

“The epicenter of the fighting” was around the city of Bakhmut, neighboring Soledar and the wider Donetsk region, Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malya told Ukrainian TV. She said Ukrainian defenders around Bakhmut were facing a “very difficult” task.

“But the main thing is that Ukraine will not give up a single inch of land,” she said.

In southern Ukraine, Russian-installed authorities in the occupied Kherson region announced they were temporarily halting traffic across the wide Dnieper River, citing “increased military danger” as Kyiv’s forces edged closer to the region’s capital, the city of Kherson.

The move would also prevent civilians from crossing back into Ukrainian-held territory.

The Moscow-backed authorities have said they are relocating tens of thousands of civilians further into Russian-held territory in anticipation of the Ukrainian counterattack.

The province was overrun by Russian forces early in the war, and both sides have been girding for a major battle over it.

In another development, Belarus and Russia began preparations for large-scale joint military exercises. Belarusian Defense Minister Viktor Khrenin didn’t specify the dates for the exercises, dubbed Union Shield-2023, or the number of troops that would take part.

Russia has previously used Belarus, an economically dependent ally, as a springboard to send troops and missiles into Ukraine. Kyiv fears that the Belarusian army will be directly drawn into the war, striking from the north where the countries share a 1,080-kilometer (671-mile) border.

On a visit to Kyiv on Wednesday, Spain’s Foreign Minister José Albares pledged a new military aid package to help Ukraine’s air defenses. Cambodia, meanwhile, agreed to send deminers to help train Ukrainians in clearing land mines.

___

Fraser reported from Ankara, Turkey. Courtney Bonnell in London contributed reporting.

___

Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine and on the food crisis at https://apnews.com/hub/food-crisis

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - Web designer Lorie Smith is shown in her office on Nov. 7, 2022, in the southwest part of Li...
Associated Press

Both sides see high stakes in gay rights Supreme Court case

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is being warned about the potentially dire consequences of a case next week involving a Christian graphic artist who objects to designing wedding websites for same-sex couples. Rule for the designer and the justices will expose not only same-sex couples but also Black people, immigrants, Jews, Muslims and others […]
22 hours ago
Associated Press

Today in History: December 3, gas disaster in Bhopal

Today in History Today is Saturday, Dec. 3, the 337th day of 2022. There are 28 days left in the year. Today’s Highlight in History: On Dec. 3, 1984, thousands of people died after a cloud of methyl isocyanate gas escaped from a pesticide plant operated by a Union Carbide subsidiary in Bhopal, India. On […]
22 hours ago
arrest...
Associated Press

Police: Washington officer shot, wounded while making arrest

Pasco Police in southeast Washington state said one of their officers was shot and wounded Thursday afternoon while making an arrest.
22 hours ago
State hospital...
Associated Press

7 die from flu in Washington state, activity ‘very high’

Flu activity in the state is now considered very high, according to the Washington State Department of Health.
22 hours ago
Former South Korean National Security Director Suh Hoon, center, arrives at the Seoul Central Distr...
Associated Press

Seoul arrests ex-top security official over border killing

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea’s former national security director was arrested Saturday over a suspected cover-up surrounding North Korea’s killing of a South Korean fisheries official near the rivals’ sea boundary in 2020. Suh Hoon’s arrest early Saturday came as President Yoon Suk Yeol’s conservative government investigates his liberal predecessor’s handling of that […]
22 hours ago
FILE - John Duarte, a Republican candidate in California's 13th Congressional District, arrives at ...
Associated Press

GOP’s Duarte takes California Central Valley US House seat

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Republican John Duarte defeated Democrat Adam Gray on Friday in a new California U.S. House district in the Central Valley farm belt that produced the closest congressional contest in the state this year. With virtually all of the ballots counted, Duarte has just over 50% of the vote. Gray conceded in […]
22 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Russia rejoins deal on wartime Ukrainian grain exports