A Different Kind of Hostage

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Russia suspended its participation in the United Nations-brokered deal to allow grain shipments from Ukraine over the weekend, a move that raised concerns over food shortages and skyrocketing cereal prices around the world, The Hill reported.

Russia’s ministry of defense explained that the decision came after Ukrainian forces launched a drone strike against Moscow’s Black Sea Fleet in Crimea. The attack damaged one of Russia’s minesweepers.

Officials said the ships were “ensuring the security of the ‘grain corridor,’” before announcing their decision to suspend their participation in the Black Sea Grain Initiative.

Moscow also blamed the United Kingdom for training and guiding Ukrainian forces in the drone attack, and accused Brits of being behind explosions that hit the Nord Stream gas pipelines carrying natural gas from Russia to Europe in September. The Kremlin did not provide any evidence.

Britain responded that Russia was making “false claims of an epic scale,” while a Ukrainian official appeared to dismiss Russia’s claims as ridiculous, the Washington Post added.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative was established in August under the auspices of the UN and Turkey. Under the deal, grain shipments were allowed to leave Ukrainian ports for the first time since the war began in February.

Ukraine is one of the world’s biggest grain exporters. Russia’s previous blockade raised concerns about food shortages in developing countries and increasing cereal prices. Africa and the Middle East have borne the brunt of the impact.

The suspension of grain exports also adds more uncertainty to the state of the global economy, which is already plagued by high inflation, steepening interest rates established by central banks, and energy shortages.

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