The Russian military closed the so-called “grain corridor” used to ship Ukrainian agriculture products through the Black Sea on Monday. The move was provoked by the actions of Ukraine, which used the route to launch attacks on Russia, the Russian Defense Ministry said.
“Any navigation through the security corridor designated under the Black Sea grain shipment initiative would be halted until the situation around the Ukrainian terrorist attack on the military and civilian vessels in Sebastopol is cleared,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement.
The ministry also said that Kiev should specifically commit not to use the corridor for military purposes. At the same time, it maintained that Russia does not withdraw from the deal but only suspends it for an indefinite period of time.
The ministry also said that Kiev should commit to not using the corridor for military purposes. At the same time, it maintained that Russia had not withdrawn from the deal but merely suspended it for an indefinite period of time.
Russia is “still in contact” with other parties, including the UN and Türkiye, Peskov said, adding, that Moscow was not ready to be talked into resuming its participation in the deal.
Russia Offers Its Stock For Poorer Nations
Earlier on Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Russia was ready to compensate for the missing Ukrainian grain exports to the poorer nations from its own stocks.
He also warned that the grain deal has become “much more risky, dangerous” now since Russia cannot guarantee maritime security in the waters of the designated grain corridor.
A dozen ships carrying Ukrainian grain were cleared to leave Turkish ports earlier on Monday. The Joint Coordination Centre (JCC) in Istanbul agreed on a plan to inspect a further 40 ships, despite Moscow’s decision to suspend the deal. It is unclear whether it will follow on its plan now.
Black Sea Ships Will Be Inspected, Russia Tells UN
Ukraine “grossly violated” the Istanbul agreement on grain exports via the Black Sea and forced Moscow to suspend it indefinitely, Russia’s envoy to the UN Vassily Nebenzia told the Security Council on Monday. The Russian Navy will inspect all cargo ships bound for Ukraine, even those unilaterally cleared by the Turkish-based coordination center, he added.
“The subversive action of Kiev grossly violates the Istanbul agreement and, in fact, puts an end to their humanitarian dimension. It is now obvious to everyone that the Black sea humanitarian corridor is being used by the Ukrainian side for military sabotage purpose,” Nebenzia said, referring to Saturday’s drone attack on Sevastopol.
Russia “cannot guarantee the safety of civilian ships participating in the Black Sea initiative,” Nebenzia added, as “we do not know what other terrorist attacks Kiev is preparing with the support of its Western sponsors.”
On Sunday, after Moscow announced the suspension of the arrangement, the Joint Coordination Center (JCC) in Istanbul said it had greenlit 16 ships to navigate the corridor on Monday and “informed” Russia about the decision. According to maritime traffic data, at least two ships left the Black Sea port of Odessa in the morning, reporting Istanbul as their destination.
“Decisions and measures taken without our participation are not binding on us,” Nebenzia told the UN. Moscow “cannot allow ships to pass without our inspection and will be forced to take independent measures” to inspect ships authorized by the JCC without Russian approval.
Food Must Flow
The UN coordinator for the Black Sea grain initiative, Amir Abdulla, insisted that “the food must flow.”
The UN and Türkiye mediated a deal in July under which Ukrainian grain could be exported via the Black Sea, while Western obstacles to the exportation of Russian grain and fertilizer would be removed. The US and its allies insist they had never sanctioned grain exports – but their sanctions on Russian ships and insurance made them impossible in practice.
Ukraine Exports To EU
Moscow has criticized the West for not keeping its side of the deal and pointed out that the bulk of Ukrainian exports had gone to the EU and not the African nations most affected by food insecurity.
Russia halted its compliance with the pact on Saturday, after Kiev launched a major drone attack on the Black Sea Fleet and civilian vessels involved in securing safe passage for agricultural cargo from Ukrainian ports.
According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the naval drones launched as part of the attack used the grain corridor to reach their targets and one of them may even have been launched from a civilian vessel supposedly chartered to ship Ukrainian grain.
On Sunday, after studying the wreckage of the unmanned combat vehicles, the Russian Defense Ministry said that those behind the attack made active use of the UN-brokered grain corridor.
Alternative To Grain Deal, Russian Offer
Russia is ready to provide poorer grain-importing nations with supplies from its own stocks to replace Ukrainian exports, Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov told journalists on Monday.
“We can guarantee the Russian side’s readiness to compensate for the missing grain export volumes from its own stock,” Peskov said.
Earlier, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said Moscow would continue to support African nations despite halting its compliance with the pact.
The Kremlin spokesman also said only a tiny portion of all Ukrainian agricultural products exported under the deal were destined for the poorest nations anyway, while “not-so-poor nations located in Europe got the rest.”
Moscow also believes that the grain deal between Russia and Ukraine, which was reached in Istanbul with UN and Turkish mediation, is now in limbo for security reasons.
“The deal could hardly be implemented when Russia says it cannot guarantee maritime security in the designated waters” of the Black Sea, Peskov said.
The Kremlin has not said the deal is dead altogether, however. Moscow is “still in contact” with other parties, including the UN and Türkiye, Peskov said. Currently, Russia is “not ready to say” what conditions would have to be met for it to resume its participation in the deal.
Last week’s decision by Russia to halt its compliance with the deal caused a grain price surge.
New York Times Exposes: Supporters Of Russian Sanctions Are Some Of Russian’s Biggest Buyers
A number of countries have dramatically increased their average monthly volumes of imports from Russia since the beginning of Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine compared to the previous five years, according to trade data compiled by the Observatory of Economic Complexity, as cited by the New York Times.
The report notes that the results are rather retrospective, as the online data platform has published the figures with a lag.
India and Türkiye emerged as major importers of Russian goods and produce, demonstrating an enormous surge of 430% and 213% respectively. Brazil, whose imports from Russia soared by 166%, was ranked third on the list. Russia’s exports to China saw an increase of 98%, while imports of Russian goods by Saudi Arabia grew by 45%.
Some of the nations that have been actively boosting purchases of goods and produce from Russia have taken an active role in opposing Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, including EU member states and those supporting anti-Russian sanctions.
Thus, imports of Russian goods by Spain saw a surge of 112%, while Russian exports to Belgium soared 130%. The Netherlands increased imports from Russia by 74%. Japan’s purchases of Russian goods and produce grew by 40%, while Germany and Norway ramped up imports from the sanction-hit nation by 38% and 21%, respectively.
Moreover, Russia’s total trade turnover with The Netherlands grew by 33%, as well as 13% with Japan, while overall trade with Belgium jumped by 84%.
At the same time, most of these nations have reduced exports to Russia, giving Moscow a healthy trade surplus. India, the top importer in the ranking, reduced exports by 19%, while exports from Brazil and Spain dropped 13% and 44%, respectively.
The U.S. and Britain saw the biggest decline in exports to Russia of 84% and 71%, respectively. Sweden reduced exports to Russia by 61%.
China and Türkiye, on the other hand, increased the export of goods to Russia. Beijing ramped up the volume of exports to Russia by 24%, while exports from Türkiye soared by 113%.
Russia’s Strikes: Damage Update By Ukraine
Russian attacks on Ukrainian critical infrastructure have injured 13 people, according to Igor Klimenko, the Head of Ukraine’s National Police. 18 facilities, mostly power stations, were hit, authorities reported on Monday.
Russia has been targeting Ukrainian energy infrastructure for several weeks now after it accused Kiev of ‘sabotage’ attacks on its own power facilities.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denis Shmygal wrote on Telegram that Russian “missiles and drones hit ten regions, damaging 18 facilities, most of them in the energy sector,” adding that while hundreds of settlements across Ukraine have faced blackouts, “the fallout could have been much worse.”
He claimed that Ukrainian air defense systems had managed to shoot down “44 out of more than 50 missiles fired at our territory,” adding that Ukrainian engineers “are working at full capacity” to repair the damage.
He went on to say that local power outages continue in Kiev, Zaporozhye, Dnepropetrovsk, and Kharkov Regions while urging his fellow citizens to save energy and reduce pressure on the national grid.
On Monday, the Russian Defense Ministry said that Moscow’s high-precision strikes on Ukrainian command and energy facilities had hit all their designated targets. Ukrainian media and officials reported explosions across the country, with local authorities urging people to take cover.
Ukraine has been experiencing regular blackouts since Moscow launched massive strikes on its energy facilities, including power stations, after it accused Kiev of terrorist attacks on Russian infrastructure, including the strategic Crimean Bridge.
Supplies Have Run Out, Says Ukraine Largest Electricity Company
Ukraine’s largest private power utility, DTEK Holding, said on Monday that it had run out of equipment needed to repair damage inflicted by Russian attacks. The latest round of missile strikes caused partial blackouts in Kiev and several other cities.
“Unfortunately, we have already used up the stock of equipment we had in warehouses after the first two waves of enemy attacks that have been taking place since October 10,” DTEK executive director Dmitry Sakharuk told Ukrainian media.
Sakharuk added that DTEK has been able to buy some replacement parts at a cost of “hundreds of millions of dollars,” and is now “working on how to purchase it or get it from our partners.”
Ukraine’s power grid uses Soviet-standard equipment that is incompatible with parts from the West and difficult to obtain outside of Russia. DTEK, owned by oligarch Rinat Akhmetov, accounts for a third of the country’s electricity market via coal-powered plants.
Another wave of missiles struck Kiev, Kharkov, Cherkasy and Vinnitsa on Monday. Kiev Mayor Vitaly Klitschko said some 350,000 apartments were without power, while water supply was disrupted in about 80% of the city. The metro system in Kharkov was offline.
Ukrainian power grid operator Ukrenergy has introduced rolling blackouts in many regions, begging the population to reduce power consumption in order to avoid a “total collapse.”
Russia began targeting Ukraine’s power grid on October 10. President Vladimir Putin explained the change of tactics by saying Kiev has carried out “sabotage” attacks against Russian infrastructure, including nuclear power plants. The October 8 suicide attack that damaged the Crimean Bridge was the final straw, the Russian president said.
Ukrainians Could Freeze To Death This Winter, Says Kiev Mayor
Many Ukrainians could “freeze to death” in the coming months unless the West helps them to cope with the looming crisis due to Russian airstrikes on the nation’s energy infrastructure, Kiev Mayor Vitaly Klitschko told UK media on Friday.
Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, Klitschko, a former heavyweight boxing champion, acknowledged that Ukraine will face huge challenges.
The official said his team has managed to procure a number of power generators while preparing 1,000 mobile heating points in Kiev.
Klitschko signaled that Ukraine urgently needs not only Western weapons and air defense systems, but also blankets, winter clothes and generators.
He also urged Ukrainians who have fled the country to stay away this winter if they can.
The mayor’s comments echo earlier remarks made by Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshchuk. This week, she called on Ukrainians who left after the start of Russia’s military offensive not to return home before spring, due to Moscow’s strikes on energy infrastructure.
Yuri Vitrenko, the head of the state-owned energy giant Naftogaz, has warned fellow citizens that Ukraine is facing its harshest ever winter, while claiming that Russian airstrikes have destroyed “about 40% of the power generation plants.”
Ukraine has been experiencing regular blackouts since Moscow launched massive strikes against its energy facilities, including power stations on October 10, after it accused Kiev of terrorist attacks on Russian infrastructure, including the strategic Crimean Bridge.
In an attempt to avert a humanitarian disaster, the EU last week announced a new emergency shelter and winterized facilities program for Ukraine, vowing to provide additional €175 million ($174 million) in humanitarian assistance to the most vulnerable parts of the population in Ukraine and neighboring Moldova.
Earlier this month the US, Ukraine’s largest international backer, pledged to support Kiev with emergency assistance to the tune of $55 million. The package includes investment in heating infrastructure, procurement of generators and other means of keeping Ukrainians warm.
Phone Call: Biden Lost Temper With Zelenskyy
An NBC News report said:
It has become routine since Russia invaded Ukraine: President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speak by phone whenever the U.S. announces a new package of military assistance for Kyiv.
But a phone call between the two leaders in June played out differently from previous ones, according to four people familiar with the call. Biden had barely finished telling Zelenskyy he’d just greenlighted another $1 billion in U.S. military assistance for Ukraine when Zelenskyy started listing all the additional help he needed and wasn’t getting. Biden lost his temper, the people familiar with the call said. The American people were being quite generous, and his administration and the U.S. military were working hard to help Ukraine, he said, raising his voice, and Zelenskyy could show a little more gratitude.
Administration officials said Biden and Zelenskyy’s relationship has only improved since the June phone call, after which Zelenskyy made a statement praising the U.S. for its generous assistance. But the clash reflects Biden’s early awareness that both congressional and public support for sending billions of dollars to Ukraine could begin to fade. That moment has arrived just as the president prepares to ask Congress to greenlight even money for Ukraine.
Biden now faces resistance from some Republicans and Democrats that wasn’t present when Congress approved previous Ukraine funds. The White House has discussed asking Congress for billions of dollars during the lame duck legislative session after the midterm elections.
The White House hasn’t specified an amount publicly. Lawmakers and Ukraine lobbyists hope for $40 billion to $60 billion, and some officials familiar with the discussions expect the number to be roughly $50 billion.
A source familiar with the conversation said that Biden was direct with Zelenskyy about handling the issues in the appropriate military channels but that the exchange wasn’t heated or angry.
A spokesperson for the National Security Council declined to comment on the story.
A spokesperson for Zelenskyy didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Top U.S. officials warn there are no signs the war is ending any time soon.
Before the June 15 phone call, the president’s frustrations with Zelenskyy had been building for weeks, three people familiar with the call said. Biden and some of his top aides felt that the administration was doing as much as it could as quickly as it could but that Zelenskyy continued to focus publicly on only what wasn’t being done.
The report said:
From Zelenskyy’s perspective — as well as that of some Eastern European governments and U.S. lawmakers from both parties — there has been repeated frustration that the Biden White House moves too slowly on weapons requests, initially hesitating to approve certain capabilities Ukraine requested most urgently, only to relent weeks or months later under pressure, according to two sources familiar with the Ukraine government’s view, congressional aides and two European officials.
After the pushback Zelenskyy got in their June phone call, his team decided to try to defuse tensions, concluding it wasn’t productive to have friction with the U.S. president, according to two sources familiar with the Ukraine government’s view, congressional aides and two European officials.
Zelenskyy responded publicly that day by thanking Biden for the promised assistance.
“I had an important conversation with U.S. President Biden today,” he said in videotaped remarks. “I am grateful for this support. It is especially important for our defense in Donbas.”
In his statement after the call, Biden said he had informed Zelenskyy of the $1 billion in aid and vowed the U.S. “will not waver in our commitment to the Ukrainian people as they fight for their freedom.”
The effort to get Ukraine weapons and equipment has intensified in recent weeks as Ukraine tries to make significant gains before harsh winter temperatures set in.
Concerns about fading support for Ukraine are also driving the current offensives, according to a defense official and a former official, as Ukraine tries to show momentum on the battlefield to encourage the flow of more weapons.
The report added:
On Oct. 12, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin convened a meeting of the Ukraine Contact Group in Brussels, a periodic gathering of allies, to discuss how to get more weapons and equipment into Ukrainian military hands. While past meetings have yielded assistance from ammunition to missile launchers, this month’s meeting took on new urgency, according to three defense officials familiar with the discussions.
“Everyone was stepping up,” said an official in the meeting. Countries were scouring their stockpiles and warehouses to find anything that could help the Ukrainian military, the official said. “There was an urgency to get them air defenses and anything we could before winter and so they can be successful in this current offensive.”
The meeting was so successful that Austin was giddy as he walked out, two defense officials said.
The proportion of Americans who are extremely or very concerned about Ukraine’s losing the war has dropped by 17 percentage points since May, from 55% to 38%, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted last month. And the proportion of Americans who say they are not too concerned or not at all concerned about Russia’s winning was up from 16% to 26%, according to the survey.
The potential change in political will in the U.S. for continuing to send aid to Ukraine could upend how both the White House and Zelenskyy have approached the issue so far.
The shifting dynamics on Capitol Hill also could force Zelenskyy’s team to rethink how it engages with Washington, as it has often tried to leverage its support in Congress to get more out of the White House.