The United Nations Security Council will convene meetings on Wednesday for the third time since the collapse of the Black Sea grain deal last week and the bombardment by Russia of Ukrainian port cities that followed.
Russia, a permanent member of the Security Council, and Ukraine both requested meetings. Russia is accusing Ukraine of persecuting the Ukrainian Orthodox Church because Kyiv says it has links to Moscow and the Russian Orthodox Church, which supported the invasion of Ukraine. Ukraine requested a meeting to discuss Russia’s attacks on Ukrainian port cities, including Odesa, in an attempt to block exports of grain and agricultural products.
Since withdrawing from the grain deal, which allowed Ukrainian ships carrying food exports to bypass wartime blockades in the Black Sea, Russia has sought to choke off the other routes for Ukraine to export its products. Earlier this week, the attacks escalated when Russian drones destroyed a grain hangar in the town of Reni, just across the Danube River from Romania, a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
The U.S. and Britain have said they expect the escalation to continue.
Barbara Woodward, Britain’s ambassador to the U.N., said on Tuesday that Britain had information indicating that Russia is planning to target more grain storage facilities across Ukraine and attack civilian ships in the Black Sea. British intelligence also showed that Russia had laid sea mines in the passageway to Ukrainian ports in the sea, she said.
The White House said last week that Russia planned to attack ships in the Black Sea and target civilian infrastructure in Ukraine. The United States and Britain assessed that these measures were part of Russia’s strategy to blame Ukraine for any civilian ships that are attacked in the Black Sea, Ms. Woodward said.
“I think the absurdity of using such heavy-duty weaponry to destroy food shows that weaponizing global food supplies is a calculated part of Russia’s strategy,” Ms. Woodward told reporters at the U.N. on Tuesday.
Britain was working with the U.N. and Turkey, which helped broker the original grain deal, to revive the agreement, but details of the negotiations were not clear, Ms. Woodward said. Russia has listed a set of conditions, including the lifting of sanctions on its international banking transactions, for rejoining the deal. The U.N. secretary general, António Guterres, has sent Russia proposals and said last week that he was “deeply disappointed” that they had not been accepted.
Diplomats at the Security Council are scheduled to discuss Russia’s accusations about persecution of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the morning. Ukrainian officials have accused the church of abetting the Russian invasion, and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine has called for lawmakers to prevent the church from operating in the country.
The second part of the Council meeting will address Russia’s attacks.