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Russia halts UN-brokered grain deal after attack on Crimea bridge

Russia says it has halted participation in a landmark United Nations-brokered deal which allowed Ukrainian grain to be exported through the Black Sea just hours after Moscow said Ukraine had attacked the Crimean bridge.

Two people were killed and their daughter was wounded in what Russia cast as a terrorist attack on a major artery for Russian troops fighting in Ukraine and a prestige project personally opened by President Vladimir Putin.

Blasts were reported before dawn on the 19-kilometre road and rail bridge linking Russia to Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

A Russian couple were killed and their 14-year-old daughter has been taken to hospital with head and chest injuries.

The Kremlin said the halting of the agreement, brokered by the United Nations and Turkey to combat a global food crisis worsened by Russia’s invasion of its neighbour, had nothing to do with the bridge attack.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the parts of the Black Sea grain deal package relating to Russia were not fulfilled and therefore it was ceasing effect.

The deal, he said, had ceased to be valid today and was halted.

Russia, he said, would return to the deal once the conditions relating to Russia were fulfilled.

The deal was due to expire on Monday.

The Ukrainian military suggested the attack could be some kind of provocation by Russia itself but Ukrainian media cited unidentified sources as saying that Ukraine’s Security Service was behind the incident.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian forces said they had taken back nearly 18 square kilometres of territory in the east and the south in the past week in their counteroffensive against Russian forces.

The advances brought the territory recaptured so far during the counteroffensive to more than 210 square kilometres, Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Maliar said on the Telegram messaging app on Monday.

Kyiv began its counteroffensive in early June but Moscow large areas of territory in eastern and southern Ukraine following its full-scale invasion in February 2022.

Ms Maliar said Ukrainian troops had retaken seven square kilometres in the past week in the direction of the small eastern city of Bakhmut, captured by Russian forces in May after months of combat.

That brought the total territory recaptured in the area to 31 square kilometres since the counteroffensive began, she said.

Serhiy Cherevatyi, the spokesperson for the eastern military command, said Russia was continuing to bring reserves to the Bakhmut sector and was trying to counterattack.

“The enemy wants to hold on to their positions near Bakhmut and in Bakhmut itself above all,” Mr Cherevatyi told Ukrainian TV, adding that the Russian counterattacks had failed.

Reuters could not immediately verify the battlefield developments. Russia has not confirmed the Ukrainian reports of territorial gains.

Ms Maliar said that in southern Ukraine, where Ukrainian forces are trying to advance towards the cities of Berdyansk and Melitopol, Kyiv’s troops had recaptured nearly 11 square kilometres in the past week.

That took the total territory recaptured in the south to nearly 180 square kilometres, she said.

Ms Maliar added that Russian forces have been advancing since the end of last week towards the city of Kupiansk in the eastern Kharkiv region.

Ukrainian officials said a 60-year-old man had been hurt in Russian shelling of the eastern region of Kharkiv and two people were wounded in Kramatorsk, also in the east.

-Reuters

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