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Russian troops are falling back in Kherson, Ukrainian official says

Russia is intentionally slowing down food shipments made under the Black Sea Grain Initiative, the Ukrainian infrastructure ministry claimed Sunday.

The charge echoes complaints made earlier this week by President Volodymyr Zelensky.

“As previously reported, Russia is deliberately delaying the full implementation of the Grain Initiative,” the Infrastructure Ministry wrote in a Facebook statement. “As a result, the ports have been operating at only 25-30% of their capacity in recent days.”

But the ministry also said “the bulk carrier PANGEO, chartered by the UN World Food Program (WFP), left the port of Chornomorsk” Sunday. The carrier is heading to Yemen carrying 40,000 tons of wheat. 

The ministry said that since Aug. 1, “380 vessels have exported 8.5 million tons of agricultural products to the countries of Africa, Asia and Europe from the ports of Great Odesa.”

In an address on Friday, Zelensky said there were delays with ships delivering grain. 

“The situation around the grain export initiative is becoming more and more tense these weeks,” he said. “The enemy is doing everything to slow down our food exports. I believe that by these actions, Russia is deliberately inflaming the food crisis to make it as acute as it was in the first months of this year. Today, more than 150 vessels are in line to fulfill contractual obligations to supply our agricultural products … It occurred only because Russia deliberately delays the passage of ships.”

What the Russians are saying: The Grain Initiative was agreed upon in July by Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and the UN. But in recent weeks, Russia has complained that part of the agreement allowing for the export of its agricultural products and fertilizer, is not being upheld.

Gennady Gatilov, Russia’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, said last week that Moscow could leave the deal, according to Reuters. Later, President Vladimir Putin weighed in, saying Russia would shut the export corridors if they are used to carry out “terrorist attacks.”

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