Russia says decision to pull out of Black Sea grain deal is final; Putin says Moscow is preparing response to deadly attack on Crimean bridge

Russia pulled out of the Black Sea grain deal, brokered by the UN and Turkey a year ago to alleviate a global food crisis by allowing Ukrainian grain to be exported safely. Moscow said the decision was final and warned it could not guarantee the safety of ships.

Antony Blinken, the US secretary of state, said Russia’s decision was “unconscionable” while UN secretary general António Guterres said he did not accept its explanations for why it had terminated the agreement, including the loss of Russian food markets.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy said the grain deal must continue and could operate without Russian participation. “Africa has the right to stability. Asia has the right to stability,” he said in his nightly video address.

A deadly attack on the Kerch Bridge closed the only land link between the occupied Crimean peninsula and the Russian mainland. A span carrying road traffic in one direction was completely destroyed though the parallel rail bridge was not affected.

Vladimir Putin said the defence ministry in Moscow was preparing a response to the attack, in which a Russian couple was killed and their daughter injured. The Russian president called it a “terrorist attack” by Ukraine and claimed the bridge had “not been used for military transportation for a long time”.

Kyiv did not officially claim responsibility for the attack, but Ukrainian media said Ukrainian security services had deployed maritime drones against the bridge. In what also appeared to be a tacit acknowledgment, Ukrainian security service spokesperson Artem Degtyarenko said in a statement that his agency would reveal details of how the “bang” was organised after Kyiv had won the war.

The mayor of Kharkiv said the bridge was a legitimate military target and that the attack would cause “a lot of logistical problems for Russia”. In an interview with the Guardian, Ihor Terekhov dismissed Russia’s claim that it was an act of Ukrainian terrorism, saying that the Kremlin had brought death and destruction to his city on an epic scale.

Britain introduced new sanctions, including against Russian education minister Sergey Kravtsov, related to what it described as Moscow’s forced deportation of Ukrainian children.

French dairy group Danone is reviewing its legal options after the Russian state took control of its subsidiary in the country, a source close to the matter told Reuters. According to a decree signed by Putin on Sunday, foreign-owned stakes in Danone Russia, along with beer company Carlsberg’s stake in a local brewer have been put under the “temporary management” of government property agency Rosimushchestvo.

More mercenaries from Russia’s Wagner military contractor arrived in Belarus on Monday, a monitoring group said, continuing their relocation to the ex-Soviet nation after last month’s short-lived mutiny. Belaruski Hajun, a Belarusian activist group, said a convoy of more than 100 vehicles carrying Russian flags and Wagner insignia entered the country, heading toward a field camp that Belarusian authorities have offered to the company.

US president Joe Biden will meet with Pope Francis’ peace envoy on Tuesday as part of the Holy See’s peace and humanitarian initiatives for Ukraine. Cardinal Matteo Zuppi’s two-day visit to Washington follows his recent mission to Moscow and an earlier stop in Kyiv, where he met with Zelenskiy.

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