Western nations lied when they claimed Ukraine needed access to sea shipping to alleviate surging food prices and the risk of famine in poor countries, Russian President Vladimir Putin has insisted.
Most of the cargoes that came out of Ukraine under a Turkey- and UN-brokered deal with Russia went to the EU, Putin stated in a speech at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia on Wednesday. He added that he terms of the arrangement should probably be changed.
Putin made the remarks in reference to the arrangement allowing civilian ships to enter and leave Ukrainian Black Sea ports to deliver grain cargoes. The scheme was put into action in late July, with Turkey hosting a center that coordinates the deliveries.
The Russian leader noted that the deal was touted as a way to curb the surging global prices and help the most struggling nations. In practice, almost all of the grain shipped from Ukraine went to wealthy EU nations, he said.
Many European nations acted in decades and centuries past as colonizers, and they act in the same way today. They simply deceived developing nations once again. And they keep up the deceit.
With an attitude like this, problems with food availability will only grow worse, Putin warned.
On August 30, the UN Food Program reported that it had sent a second shipment with food assistance from Ukraine. The ship was carrying 37,000 metric tons of wheat grain to Yemen. Putin stressed that just two ships out of more than 80 that left Ukraine were actually traveling on hunger relief missions.
Earlier this week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accused Western nations of failing to remove secondary restrictions on the export of food and fertilizers from Russia after the Ukraine deal was reached. The UN, which co-signed the agreement with Turkey, pledged to use its clout to have the restrictions lifted.
The economic forum hosted by Russia is an annual event focused on regional cooperation in Asia. Putin was taking part in a plenary session on the second day of the event, along with officials from Armenia, China, Myanmar, and Mongolia.
Artillery of the Ukrainian armed forces attacked the area of Energodar and the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant more than a dozen times over the past day, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Wednesday.
Three rounds struck inside the NPP, causing damage but no radiation leaks so far. The shelling happened after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) visited the facility and issued a report calling for the shelling to stop.
“Regardless of the presence of IAEA representatives, the Kiev regime continues its provocations at the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant, with the goal of creating the threat of a man-made disaster,” the defense ministry in Moscow said, noting that 15 artillery attacks against the city of Energodar and the territory of the ZNPP have been observed over the past 24 hours.
Zaporozhye is Europe’s largest nuclear power plant. Along with the nearby city of Energodar, it has been under Russian control since March. Artillery, drone, and rocket attacks began in July, however, damaging cooling systems, power lines, and other facilities.
Ukraine has accused Russia of staging false-flag attacks on the plant, but last week admitted its forces have shelled Energodar.
Of the 20 rounds fired by Ukrainian artillery from Marganets, due north of Energodar, three struck the nuclear power plant in the areas of reactors one and two, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Wednesday. The shelling reportedly interrupted power supply to Energodar.
“Any military activity – such as shelling – within, or in the vicinity of, a nuclear facility has the potential to cause an unacceptable radiological consequence,” the IAEA said in its report on Tuesday.
Shelling should be “stopped immediately to avoid any further damages to the plant and associated facilities,” the UN nuclear watchdog demanded, proposing the creation of a “safety zone” around the ZNPP as the way to do this.
Russia has rejected the idea of withdrawing troops that provide security for the NPP, saying that Ukraine would use this to seize the facility – as it tried to do during the IAEA visit last week, led by the agency’s Director General Rafael Grossi personally.
Grossi has told CNN he wasn’t calling for “demilitarization” but something “more modest.” Moscow’s envoy to the UN bodies in Vienna, Mikhail Ulyanov, told reporters he would ask the IAEA head to elaborate on the idea when they meet later this week.