The US regrets Russia’s suspension of its participation in operations of the UN-brokered Black Sea Grain Initiative, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Saturday.
"We urge all parties to keep this essential, life-saving Initiative functioning," the top diplomat said in a statement, adding that the deal has been critically important for low- and middle-income countries.
"It has been a success and must continue," he added.
Blinken accused Moscow of again weaponizing food in the war it started in Ukraine. "Any act by Russia to disrupt these critical grain exports is essentially a statement that people and families around the world should pay more for food or go hungry," he said.
Blinken urged Russia to resume participation in the deal.
The Russian Defense Ministry said earlier that Russia has suspended its participation in the deal to export Ukrainian grain, following attacks on its Black Sea Fleet.
The move came "in the light of the recent events connected to the terrorist attacks against ships of the Black Sea Fleet," said a ministry statement.
Russia has officially notified UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that Moscow suspended its participation in the grain deal.
Criticizing Russia's move, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said: "Russia began deliberately aggravating the food crisis back in September when it blocked the movement of ships with our (grain)."
In a video message released on Telegram, Zelenskyy accused Russia of trying to prevent the movement of 176 ships leaving Ukrainian ports under the grain corridor agreement since September.
He said they contain food for more than 7 million consumers, adding: "Some grain carriers have been waiting for more than three weeks."
Türkiye, the UN, Russia and Ukraine signed an agreement July 22 in Istanbul to resume grain exports from three Ukrainian Black Sea ports, which were paused after the Russia-Ukraine war began in February. A Joint Coordination Center with officials from the three countries and the UN has been set up in Istanbul to oversee the shipments.