Russia told the United Nations Security Council on Monday that the agreement to allow the export of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea reached earlier this year cannot continue without Moscow and that it will not allow ships safe passage that have not been inspected by Russian experts.
The comments by Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vasily Nebenzya, follow an alleged drone attack on its Black Sea Fleet on Saturday, which the Kremlin has blamed on Ukraine.
Moscow has responded by pulling out of the agreement it had signed with Ukraine, the UN and Turkey earlier this year to facilitate the export of grain that was stuck in Ukraine’s ports due to Russia’s blockade.
Nebenzya accused Ukraine of using the so-called “grain corridor” for military purposes and said his country would not allow vessels it has not inspected to pass, adding that it will take its own “control measures” if the traffic continues.
“We will give details of our approach to this in the very near future,” said the diplomat, who regretted that the coordination center set up in Istanbul had given the green light to some ships without Russia’s permission.
Despite Russia’s exit from the pact, Ukraine, Turkey and the UN approved the transport on Monday of 16 bulk carriers — 12 of them from Ukrainian ports, four of which are on their way to Ukraine to be loaded — and plan to continue inspections of other waiting vessels.
Nebenzya stressed that decisions taken without Russia do not bind it to anything and insisted that the Black Sea agreement cannot be implemented without its participation.
The Russian ambassador repeated allegations made by his government in recent days, which claim that the marine drones used on Saturday against Russian Navy ships in the port of Sevastopol used the grain corridor.
Those arguments were questioned by the UN humanitarian chief, Martin Griffiths, during a speech at the same meeting on Monday in which he said there was no freighter in the corridor on the night of October 29 when the attacks allegedly took place.
Moscow believes that the evidence suggests that at least one of the devices could have been launched from a merchant ship sailing under the Black Sea agreement.