Statement by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia at UNSC meeting regarding the suspencion of the Black Sea grain initiative
Russia requested this meeting in connection with the actions of the Ukrainian side in the Black Sea that pose a direct threat to the international peace and security.
On Saturday, 29 October, at approximately 04:00 am, Ukrainian armed forces under the cover of the humanitarian corridor set up for the implementation of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, launched massive air and sea strikes against the Russian Black Sea Fleet’s ships in Sevastopol. The attacks involved 9 unmanned aerial vehicles and 7 autonomous undersea drones, all of which were eliminated by our navy. The attacked Russian vessels were taking part in maintaining safety of the “grain corridor” that was used for exporting agricultural products from Ukrainian ports.
Russian experts discovered and retrieved debris of undersea drones, and also carried out an expert evaluation of navigation modules of Canadian manufacture that were mounted on the drones. According to the results of reconstruction of the information from the memory of the navigation receiver, it was established that the sea drones were launched from the coast near Odessa.
Then the sea drones moved along the "grain corridor" security zone, after which they changed their route in the direction of Sevastopol in the Russian Crimea. At the same time, the coordinates of movement of one of the sea drones indicate the starting point in the sea area of the "grain corridor" security zone in the Black Sea. This may indicate that this vehicle may have been launched from one of the civilian vessels chartered by Kiev or its Western patrons to export agricultural products from Ukrainian seaports.
According to the Russian Defense Ministry, Kiev plotted this terrorist attack under the guidance of British experts, who were deployed in the Ochakov port of the Nikolaev Region of Ukraine. Another noteworthy fact is that American strategic reconnaissance drone RQ-4В Global Hawk was seen in the Black Sea airspace off the Crimean coast on Saturday.
This subversive act of the Kiev regime grossly violates the Istanbul Agreements dated 22 July 2022 and basically “shuts the door” on the humanitarian dimension of the agreements. It is obvious now that the Ukrainian side is using the Black Sea grain corridor for military and subversive purposes.
Due to these acts by Kiev, the Russian side cannot guarantee safety of civilian vessels taking part in the Grain Initiative. We do not know what other terrorist attacks Kiev is plotting with the help of its Western sponsors. That is why we had to suspend the implementation of the Grain Initiative from 29 October on for an indefinite term. Our representatives in the Joint Coordination Center (JCC) in Istanbul have been instructed accordingly.
However according to the incoming reports, the work of the JCC in Istanbul continues even without the Russian experts. In particular, on 30-31 October representatives of Türkiye, the United Nations, and Ukraine negotiated the passage of 12 vessels from Ukrainian ports to Türkiye, 4 from Türkiye to Ukraine, and 40 from Türkiye to the Mediterranean.
It is our understanding that the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which Russia, Türkiye, and Ukraine agreed on under UN supervision on 22 July, must not be implemented without Russia, and so we do not view the decisions that were made without our involvement as binding. At the same time, the mentioned facts of misuse of the humanitarian corridors and the fact that the Black Sea remains an area of hostilities explain why we cannot allow for unimpeded passage of vessels without our inspection. We will have to take our own control measures with regard to dry cargo carriers that the JCC will clear without our consent. Soon we will elaborate on our conclusions and approaches to the grain deal in more detail.
Statements by our Western colleagues that we have heard and will continue to hear today, according to which our steps allegedly pose a threat to food security, are nothing more than another attempt to shift responsibilities in order to “cover up” for the Kiev regime, whose crimes the Western curators eagerly forgive. This sort of connivance is extended even to the most dangerous Kiev’s acts, like “nuclear blackmail” via strikes against the Zaporozhye NPP, plotting of “dirty bomb” provocations, targeted attacks on civilian infrastructure, including the Crimean bridge, repressions against civilians in its controlled areas.
How are you going to whitewash your protégés today after they have used a UN-safeguarded humanitarian corridor for their subversive terrorist purposes? What “Russian propaganda” are you going to refer to? Fact is that it is the Kiev authorities and not Russia who jeopardizes the functioning of the humanitarian corridor, while showing complete disdain for any agreements, even if those were made under the UN auspices.
Throughout the existence of the Grain Initiative, more than 70 vessels have been detained, some of them were dismissed due to systematic violations related to failure to observe the rules of navigation in the grain corridor and attempted smuggle. Thereby Ukrainian social media openly discuss opportunities that the grain deal created for smuggling of arms and fuel aboard vessels moving back to Ukrainian ports via the grain corridor. There are also attempts to artificially speed up the process of inspection of dry cargo ships within the framework of the Black Sea Initiative.
When Washington and Brussels hypocritically blame Russia for “provoking global hunger”, they fail to mention that their sanctions impede not only Russian agricultural exports, (30 million tonnes of food and 25 million tonnes of fertilizers until the end of the year), but also our free deliveries (500,000 tonnes of grain and 286 tonnes of fertilizers) to the countries in need. For all this time, we have faithfully engaged in facilitating exports of Ukrainian food, which was dispatched on a commercial basis, and not to the starving as the Secretary-General had promised, but to the European Union and other developed states. Thanks to the critical efforts of Russian experts, the Black Sea traffic amounted to considerable volumes and rates (approximately 1 million tonnes exported weekly), while the progress of the Russia-UN memorandum for agricultural exports remained at zero point. We should have expected the Western states to adopt such an approach, especially if we recall that these delegations did not let the Security Council adopt a “joint product” at the end of July that would have welcomed both Istanbul arrangements, and that they tried to erase from the draft every mentioning of the Russian part of the package deal.
We are surprised that leadership of the United Nations failed not only to condemn, but even to express concern over the terrorist attacks carried out under the cover of the humanitarian corridor. First the UN Secretariat reformatted the grain deal from a humanitarian into a commercial project, and now it is turning a blind eye to this initiative being used for military purposes. To say nothing of the absence of concrete results with regard to Russian agricultural exports that account for a significant share of global markets and are crucial for ensuring food security.
The Saturday terrorist attack in Sevastopol with direct involvement of the grain corridor was a step to undermine the grain deal. First the Ukrainian side refused to let out vessels from the ports that had been mined by Ukraine itself through our humanitarian corridors – in an attempt to exert political pressure on Russia and benefit from it. Now Ukraine has resorted to using the grain corridor for military purposes.
This situation makes us add some clarity. What do the beneficiaries of the Black Sea initiative actually want? If you want to ensure food security and care for the poorest counties, there is everything that it takes. By the end of this year, our agricultural sector can provide approximately 30 million tonnes of grain for export (wheat in the first place) with a view to bringing this up to 50 million tonnes, taking into account the current crops. Even given the invalid (for Russia) grain deal, we have sent approximately 10.5 million tonnes of grain to Asian and African states, three quarters thereof being wheat. Russia is ready to provide its grain at affordable prices, and also to provide 500,000 tonnes of food to the poorest countries free of charge in the next 4 months, as well as the almost 300,000 tonnes of fertilizers that remain detained in European ports.
However if your goal is to prevent Russian food from accessing the global markets, and let Ukraine indulge in smuggle, subversive activities and terrorist attacks while using the grain deal as a cover-up, this is another thing. It is up to you to choose what path our dialogue will follow.
Right of reply by Deputy Permanent Representative Dmitry Chumakov:
As usual, we gravely diverge in our interpretations. Let me draw everyone’s attention to what is posted on the website which is developed by our UN colleagues following the data from the JCC.
As of 29 October, the Black Sea grain corridor had been used by 409 vessels, more than 40 % of which had departed for Europe. The total of 9.5 million tonnes of food had been exported, 43 % whereof was corn, and only 29 % wheat. Today only wheat was mentioned frequently, whereas it accounts only for one third of the total exports.
We must be mindful that not all Ukrainian wheat is food-grade. More than a half of the recipients still remain in the high-income states, mostly the countries of Europe. As for low-income and lower middle-income countries, those receive less than one quarter of the entire exported volume, which was a little bit more than 2 million tonnes over the three months, and only 255,000 tonnes (2.3%) via the World Food Program. We have not received confirmations of EU’s claims that they allegedly reroute or resell part of the food they purchase from Ukraine to the poorest countries. We still cannot understand why the WFP plays such an insignificant role here.