Explosions were heard in Kiev on Monday and Ukrainian authorities reported Russian missile strikes across the country after Moscow blamed Kiev for an attack on its Black Sea fleet and pulled out of a deal to allow Ukrainian grain shipments.
“A new shipment of Russian missiles hits Ukraine’s critical infrastructure. Instead of fighting on the battlefield, Russia is fighting civilians,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said a tweet.
“Don’t explain these attacks by calling them a ‘reaction’. Russia is doing this because it still has the missiles and the will to kill Ukrainians.”
Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko said missiles hit energy infrastructure in Kiev and other cities, causing power and water failures.
“Russia is not interested in peace talks, nor in global food security. Putin’s sole aim is death and destruction.”
There was no immediate response from Moscow, which has accused Kiev of attacking its Black Sea fleet in a Crimean port with 16 drones on Saturday. Earlier this month, Russia launched the largest airstrikes since the start of the war on Kiev and other Ukrainian cities, it said in response to an attack on its bridge to Crimea.
Ukraine has neither confirmed nor denied that it was behind the attack on the Russian fleet, its typical policy for incidents in Crimea.
Russia and Ukraine are both among the world’s largest food exporters, and a Russian blockade on Ukrainian grain shipments earlier this year sparked a global food crisis.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy accused Russia of “blackmailing the hungry world” by withdrawing from the food export agreement negotiated between the United Nations and Turkey.
Among the ships detained was one carrying tens of thousands of tons of wheat chartered by the UN’s World Food Program for emergency relief in the Horn of Africa, Zelenskiy said in a late-night speech.
The Ukrainian Ministry of Infrastructure said a total of 218 ships were “effectively blocked”.
The grain agreement required Russia and Ukraine to coordinate inspections and transit of ships through the Black Sea, with the United Nations and Turkey acting as mediators.
No ships moved on Sunday. The United Nations said it had agreed with Turkey and Ukraine on a transit plan for Monday for 16 ships to carry grain from the Black Sea — 12 outwards and four inbound. There was no immediate response from Russia.
The United Nations said Russian officials had been notified of the plan, along with an intention to inspect 40 outbound ships on Monday, noting that “all participants are coordinating with their respective military and other relevant authorities to ensure the safe passage of commercial vessels.” ships” under the agreement.
President Joe Biden called Russia’s action on Saturday “purely outrageous” and said it would increase starvation. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken accused Moscow of arming food.
On Sunday, Russia’s ambassador to Washington snapped back, saying the US response was “outrageous” and made false claims about Moscow’s move.
This is a story in development, check back for updates.