UN refutes Russia’s version about the attack on its ships in Sevastopol

The UN said that no ships were in the grain corridor when Russian ships in Sevastopol Bay were attacked.

On the evening of October 29, when Russia claimed its vessels in Crimea were attacked in Sevastopol, no ships involved in an UN-mediated Ukraine grain export deal were moving in the Black Sea maritime humanitarian corridor, UN aid chief Martin Griffiths reported to the U.N. Security Council on October 31.

Regarding Russian charges, Griffiths emphasized that the Joint Coordination Center of the initiative has always remained impartial:

“I want to draw attention to three things on the suspected Initiative link of the Sevastopol attacks and the destruction of Russian military equipment and warships.

First, let’s make clear that no party is currently involved in supporting the Initiative with any military ships, planes, or other assets. They’re not necessary. They are not allowed to approach the cargo ships any closer than ten nautical miles, as per the protocols decided upon by all parties.

Second, the corridor itself has no special status when no Initiative vessels – vessels participating in the Black Sea Grain Initiative – are in the region. Instead, it is just a series of lines on a map. For either offensive or defensive military action, it offers neither cover nor protection. It’s not a shield, it’s not a hideout, it’s not a no-go zone. These things come into play when a ship passes through those lines on the sea.

Third, concerning claims that Initiative cargo ships were being used for military operations, none were in the corridor on the claimed attack night of October 29. Over the weekend, no incident was reported by any vessel. Therefore, we are prepared to take into account and research any evidence that is presented to us in the JCC.”

In the JCC, all parties agreed that this Initiative should only be polite. The obligations of Ukraine and the Russian Federation safeguard the safety of shipping rather than escorts or patrols, as some may have thought. According to paragraph C of the contract, which was signed on July 22 in Istanbul, both parties agree not to attack ships and related port facilities.

Russia claimed on October 29 that it was stopping its participation in the “grain deal,” purportedly as a result of the “terrorist act” that happened in Sevastopol Bay on that day.

The Black Sea Fleet ships, which were purportedly involved in maintaining the security of the grain corridor, were the focus of the strike in Sevastopol Bay, according to the Russian Defense Ministry.

Read also: UN, Turkey, and Ukraine agree on ships’ departure under a grain deal, but the prices rise

Grain deal still in force despite Russia’s declaration – UN

Martin Griffiths, UN Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator told media after a Security Council meeting that the UN does not believe that Russia’s suspension of participation in the “grain deal” means that it is no longer valid. UN inspectors will continue to examine ships carrying grain out of Ukrainian ports.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative, he insisted, “remains in force despite the suspension of Russia’s participation in it.”

“Russia has neither suspended the grain deal nor withdrawn from it. They stated that they suspended participation in it for an indefinite period. And, as a result of that, we continue through this initiative to target vessels that are moving [from Ukraine]; along with Turkey, where possible, and Ukraine, to inspect those vessels,” Griffiths added.

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