MOSCOW (Reuters) -The Kremlin said on Monday that a Russian missile strike against the Ukrainian port of Odesa would not affect grain exports but said the United Nations must secure the removal of curbs on Russian exports for the landmark grain deal to work.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia had targeted military infrastructure in a missile strike on Saturday, just hours after Kyiv and Moscow had secured the conflict’s first diplomatic breakthrough since February in a deal to restart crucial grain exports from Ukraine.
“These strikes are connected exclusively with military infrastructure,” Peskov said.
“They are in no way related to infrastructure that is used for the export of grain. This should not affect – and will not affect – the beginning of shipments.”
The hit on Odesa had raised questions about whether the deal would go ahead or if all sides would honour the agreements reached in Istanbul.
Ukraine’s grain exports have been stalled since Feb. 24, when Russia sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine in what it calls a “special military operation.”
Russia and Ukraine are major exporters of grains, including wheat, corn and sunflower seeds, to the Middle East and Africa. Before Feb. 24, the two countries accounted for nearly one-third of global wheat exports.
As part of the deal, brokered by Turkey and the United Nations, the U.N. and Russia also signed an memorandum of understanding on Friday committing the U.N. to facilitating unimpeded access of Russian fertiliser and other products to global markets.
“The U.N. should implement its part about the indirect restrictions imposed against Russian grain and fertiliser shipments,” Peskov said on Monday.
“There are no direct (restrictions), but there are indirect ones that do not allow us to fully fulfil these shipments, which are vital for international markets, and especially those regions where hunger is beginning to become especially palpable.”
The Kremlin said it was too early to say whether the deal would be a success until the mechanisms outlined in the agreement start operating.
(Reporting by Reuters; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)