Russia said Monday it has pulled out of a deal that enabled Ukraine to export its grain through the Black Sea even after last year's invasion, a move that drew criticism from Western countries and prompted the United Nations to express regret.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow did not agree to extend the deal with the world body, Turkey and Ukraine beyond Monday's expiration as a parallel agreement for exports of Russian grain and fertilizer had not been implemented.
The Russian Foreign Ministry informed the three parties the same day of the withdrawal from the deal, which was signed in July last year.
It also said the safety of commercial vessels in the Black Sea will not be guaranteed starting Tuesday.
U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres told reporters, "I deeply regret the decision" by Russia to terminate the initiative's implementation, including the withdrawal of its security guarantees for navigation in the northwestern part of the Black Sea.
"Today's decision by the Russian Federation will strike a blow to people in need everywhere," he said.
"This is really another act of cruelty," said Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, referring to Russia's veto last week of plans to extend the supply of humanitarian aid to northwestern areas of Syria where opposition forces hold power.
British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly lashed out at the Russian decision to suspend the grain deal, saying, "This decision hurts the world's poorest."
"I condemn Russia for taking the rest of the world hostage," Shunsuke Takei, Japanese senior vice foreign minister, told a U.N. Security Council session Monday, adding it is deeply regrettable that Russia chose to "blame others for the crisis it has created by its aggression."