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MOSCOW: The Kremlin on Tuesday issued a veiled warning over the future of grain exports from Ukraine following Moscow’s exit from a landmark deal allowing passage for cargo ships from three Ukraine ports.

Kyiv had said it was prepared to continue grain exports despite the Russian withdrawal, which sparked outrage from the United Nations and the West.

“Without appropriate security guarantees, certain risks arise here. If (a future agreement) is formalised without Russia, then these risks should be taken into account,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

Kremlin says Black Sea grain deal has ‘de facto ended’

He accused Ukraine of using the grain deal zone in the Black Sea for “combat purposes”.

The grain deal, brokered by the UN and Turkey, had enabled the export of more than 32 million tonnes of Ukrainian grain over the last year.

The UN warned that the world’s poorest would “pay the price” and the US called the Russian exit “unconscionable.”

But Peskov brushed off the outcry, saying Russia had extended the deal several times “despite the conditions of the agreement towards Russia not being realised”.

Moscow had for months complained that elements allowing the export of Russian food and fertilisers had not been honoured.

The Kremlin said it would honour a pledge made by President Vladimir Putin earlier this year that Russia would provide grain to “African countries most in need” for free should the grain deal not be extended.

“Of course, Russia maintains its position on this and we are in contact with African partners,” Peskov said.

“But to our common regret, we are talking about rather small amounts,” he warned.

He said this will be discussed with African officials at the Russia-Africa summit in Saint Petersburg next week.

“We are preparing and waiting for them.”

The Kremlin nonetheless said it “highly values” the role of UN Secretary Antonio Guterres, claiming he had tried to convince European countries to “fulfil obligations” but that it had “unfortunately not happened”.

Russia also said Tuesday it had carried out a “retaliation strike” against sites in Ukraine’s Odesa port that it claimed were involved in planning an attack on Moscow’s bridge to Crimea.

“At night, the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation delivered a group retaliation strike with high-precision sea-based weapons at facilities where terrorist acts against Russia had been prepared using unmanned boats,” the Russian army said in a statement.

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