President Volodymyr Zelensky has called Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to reverse course and rejoin the UN-supported deal to export grain from Ukrainian ports a “significant diplomatic outcome” that demonstrates “the failure of Russian aggression,” The Guardian newspaper has reported.
Speaking in a speech on Wednesday, Nov. 2, he noted that “implementation of the grain export initiative will continue.”
Russia had earlier backtracked on the agreement that permitted grain exports from blockaded Ukrainian ports through the Black Sea. The Russian Defense Ministry said it was pleased with what it described as Ukraine’s “sufficient” assurances. This comes after a recent drone attack on Russian warships near Sevastopol.
The policy change, according to Zelensky, demonstrated that “Russian blackmail has failed.”
Eight months into the war “the Kremlin is saying that they demanded security guarantees from Ukraine”, he underlined.
“Two hundred and fifty-two days ago Russia demanded security guarantees from the United States of America.”
“These are really striking changes. This shows both the failure of Russian aggression and how strong you and I are when we remain united,” he noted in his speech.
Russia’s threatened pullout reignited concerns about global hunger and high food prices, which had been tempered by the grain deal struck in the summer, which permitted cargo ships to transport Ukrainian grain without the risk of being attacked.
The U.S. applauded the restoration of the grain deal and has urged Russia to extend it as it is scheduled to end on Nov. 19.
Ukraine and its allies view Russia’s decision to re-join the UN grain deal as a shameful U-turn.
One of Zelensky’s top advisors, Anton Herashchenko, said in a message on his Telegram channel on Wednesday, Nov. 2, that
“Putin was once again humiliated … the Kremlin blackmailer once again made himself a laughing stock before the whole world and retreated.”
Turkish President Recep Erdogan will be credited with calling the credibility of the Russians into question on its plans to blockade Ukrainian ports or even torpedo civilian cargo ships carrying grain abroad. Ahead of Russia’s backtracking, Erdogan had declared that grain exports from Ukraine would continue whether or not Russia approved.
More Russian attacks took place across Ukraine on Thursday, Nov. 3. According to Ukrainian officials, massive shelling in many regions damaged infrastructure, including electricity supply to Europe’s largest nuclear plant in Zaporizhzhia.
After Russian shelling damaged the surviving high voltage lines, having left it with only diesel power stations, the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant was once again cut off from the power grid, according to Ukrainian nuclear company Energoatom.
According to Energoatom, the plan has sufficient fuel to run the generators for 15 days.
Strikes by Russian forces reportedly targeted Sumy and Kharkiv in the north-east and the city of Kryvy Rih.