Russia said two civilians were killed and their daughter wounded in what Moscow called a terrorist attack on the road bridge, a major artery for Russian forces fighting in Ukraine.
The Kremlin said there was no link between the attack and its decision to suspend the grain deal, which it says should ease restrictions on Russian food and fertilizer exports.
“In fact, today the Black Sea agreements no longer apply,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call. “Unfortunately, part of the Black Sea agreements relating to Russia has not yet been implemented, so their effect has been terminated.”
Pictures showed part of the road bridge had fallen and traffic had stopped in both directions, although a parallel railway bridge was still functioning. Explosions were reported before dawn on the 19-km-long bridge, which Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered to be built after seizing and annexing the peninsula from Ukraine in 2014.
Kiev did not give an official account of the explosions. It usually does not comment on reports of attacks in Crimea or in Russia, but has long maintained that the bridge was built illegally, and its use by Russia for military supplies makes it a legitimate target. Russia reopened the bridge after it was hit by a massive explosion and fire in October.
Russia’s suspension of the Black Sea grain deal could lead to higher food prices around the world, particularly in the poorest countries. Ukraine and Russia are two of the world’s largest exporters of grain and other foodstuffs.
The grain deal was hailed as preventing a global food emergency when it was brokered by the United Nations and Turkey last year, stopping a virtual blockade of Ukraine’s ports by Russia, which agreed to let the ships through after inspections in Turkey.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a powerful sponsor of the deal, said he still believed Putin wanted it to continue. He told reporters that the Russian and Turkish foreign ministers would speak later on Monday.
“I hope that through this discussion we can make some progress and continue on our way without stopping,” Erdogan said.
Global food commodity prices rose on Monday, although the increase was limited, indicating that traders were not yet anticipating a severe supply crunch. The Chicago Board of Trade’s most active Wv1 contract rose 3.0% to 6.81-3/4 a bushel at 1056 GMT after previously rising more than 4%.
Last week, Putin threatened to suspend participation in the grain deal, while also saying Russia could return to it if its demands for easier rules for its agricultural and fertilizer exports are met.
Along with the Black Sea grain deal, a three-year deal was struck last year under which UN officials agreed to help Russia get food and fertilizer to foreign markets.
Moscow says these conditions have not been fully implemented. Western countries say Moscow is trying to use its influence over the grain deal to weaken financial sanctions that do not apply to Russian agricultural exports.
“We can suspend our participation in the deal, and if everyone says again that all the promises we made to us will be kept, then let them fulfill this promise,” Putin said last week.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen described Russia’s suspension of the agreement as a “cynical move” and said the EU would continue to try to secure food for poor countries.
Russia agreed three times last year to extend the Black Sea agreement, despite repeated threats to pull out. It briefly suspended its participation at the end of October last year after an attack on its fleet by seaborne Ukrainian drones, leading to a few days when Ukraine, Turkey and the United Nations kept exports under the deal below Moscow.
Denis Marchuk, deputy head of the Agricultural Council of Ukraine, Ukraine’s main agricultural organization, sounded optimistic about the prospect of seaborne exports continuing again without Russia’s participation.
“As an option, why don’t we assess the possibility of the grain deal continuing without Russia? We have the experience of this already in November 2022,” he told Reuters. “If there are safety guarantees from our partners, why not take the grain initiative without Russia’s participation?”
The explosion, which occurred on the Russian bridge leading to the Crimea peninsula, comes after months of Ukrainian strikes on Russian supply lines, while Kiev continues a counter-attack to expel Russian forces from its lands.
Unverified photos showed that a section of road on the bridge had split open and was running on one side, with twisted metal guardrails. Dash cam footage showed the drivers braking sharply shortly after the crash.
The Ukrainian military initially indicated that the attack might have been some kind of provocation by Russia itself; Ukrainian media later quoted it Unknown sources Saying that the Ukrainian security service is behind it.
The Ukrainian counter-offensive, which began last month, has been slow so far, capturing a string of small villages in the south and some territory around Bakhmut, the small eastern city captured by Russia in May after the bloodiest fighting of the war. On Monday, Kiev said its forces had captured another 18 square kilometers of territory over the past week, bringing the total number captured to more than 210 square kilometers.
By Jay Faulconbridge
(Reporting by Lydia Kelly in Melbourne, Jay Faulconbridge in Moscow, Max Hunder in Kiev, Reuters bureau; Writing by Peter Graf; Editing by Philippa Fletcher)