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Russia Rejoins Ukraine Grain Deal


FILE - A crew member prepares a grain analysis onboard a ship coming from Ukraine loaded with grain and anchored in Istanbul, on Oct. 11, 2022.
FILE - A crew member prepares a grain analysis onboard a ship coming from Ukraine loaded with grain and anchored in Istanbul, on Oct. 11, 2022.

Russia said Wednesday it is resuming its participation in an agreement facilitating the shipment of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea.

“The Russian Federation considers that the guarantees received at the moment appear sufficient, and resumes the implementation of the agreement,” the defense ministry said in a statement.

Russia suspended its participation Saturday after alleging Ukraine used drones to attack the Russian Black Sea fleet.

The United Nations and Turkey brokered the agreement in July with Russia and Ukraine to resume Ukrainian grain shipments and allow for Russian shipments of fertilizer amid a global food crisis.

In a statement issued Tuesday through his spokesman, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres “warmly” welcomed the announcement from the Russian Federation on its resumed participation in the Black Sea Grain Initiative.

Guterres said he “continues his engagement with all actors toward the renewal and full implementation of the initiative, and he also remains committed to removing the remaining obstacles to the exports of Russian food and fertilizer.”

Russia’s suspension interrupted shipments in recent days, while the other parties to the scheme worked to get some shipments out of Ukrainian ports and to carry out some of the inspections in Istanbul called for under the deal.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy hailed the agreement Wednesday as "a significant diplomatic result for our country and the whole world" after Russia rejoined a deal.

Iranian weapons

The Pentagon on Tuesday raised “concerns” that Russia may try to get more weapons from Iran and North Korea to use in its war against Ukraine.

Russia recently has targeted civilian infrastructure with Iranian-made drones, and Iranian personnel are helping the Russian military launch these drone attacks from the Crimean Peninsula, according to the United States.

Iran has repeatedly denied it is providing Russia drones and military support.

“We do have concerns that Russia may also seek to acquire additional advanced munition capabilities from Iran — for example, surface-to-surface missiles — to use in Ukraine,” said Pentagon press secretary Pat Ryder.

Atlanta-based cable news network CNN has reported that Iran is preparing to send Russia about 1,000 additional weapons, including surface-to-surface, short-range ballistic missiles and more suicide drones.

Also Wednesday, the White House accused North Korea of shipping artillery shells to Russia via other countries, something North Korea denies.

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the U.S. believes North Korea is "trying to make it appear as though they're being sent to countries in the Middle East or North Africa."

He declined to provide a specific estimate of the quantity of ammunition being sent to bolster the Russian effort but said they are “not going to change the course of the war.”

Security Council

Meanwhile, Russia was denied Wednesday its request to the U.N. Security Council to establish a formal inquiry into its charge that the U.S. and Ukraine have biological weapons programs in Ukraine. It’s a claim that Kyiv and Washington deny.

China was the only country to vote with Russia in support of a draft Security Council resolution on the measure. The U.S., Britain and France voted against it, and the other 10 council members abstained.

U.N. disarmament officials have long said they are not aware of any biological weapons programs in Ukraine.

VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb contributed to this story. Some information came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.

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