Ukraine's president discusses grain deal resumption with UN chief

Ukraine's president discusses grain deal resumption with UN chief

Volodymyr Zelenskyy says he agreed with Antonio Guterres to continue working with 'responsible states' on restoring grain deal

By Anadolu staff

ANKARA (AA) — Ukraine's president said Tuesday that he discussed the resumption of the Black Sea grain deal with the UN's top official, a day after the initiative was shelved by Russia.

In a statement on Telegram, Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he and Secretary-General Antonio Guterres agreed over the phone to continue work with "responsible states" to ensure global food security.

"The Black Sea Grain Initiative must be preserved. We agreed with Mr. Guterres to work together with responsible states to restore food security and food supply through the Black Sea routes," said Zelenskyy.

The Ukrainian leader had said earlier that he suggested to Guterres and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that they continue the grain deal, or an equivalent mechanism, in a trilateral format without Russia's participation.

A year ago, Türkiye, the UN, Russia, and Ukraine signed an agreement in Istanbul to resume grain exports from three Ukrainian Black Sea ports, the deal had been renewed several times since then, and it was extended for another two months on May 18.

Under the grain deal, a Joint Coordination Center was set up in Istanbul last year with officials from Russia, Türkiye, Ukraine and the UN to oversee the shipments.

The Kremlin announced Monday that it had suspended the deal, asserting that most of the grain exported under the scheme from Ukraine was going to EU countries rather than food-strapped regions in Africa and that parts of the agreement related to Russian interests had gone unimplemented.

Russia's Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov said in a separate message that his country's decision to suspend the deal was "adequate to the situation."

In response to accusations by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken that Russia "denies food to people" and "contributes to rising prices," Antonov urged Washington to "stop leading the rest of the world by the nose."

The ambassador stressed that Moscow remained ready to consider restoring the agreement only when "convinced not in words but in deeds of the operability and effectiveness of the package Istanbul agreements."

Antonov also questioned what the US government itself did to ensure the effective implementation of the Black Sea Grain Initiative.

"Washington did not lift a finger in order to eliminate the distortions it created in the functioning of agricultural agreements. At the same time, he turned the Black Sea (Grain) Initiative, originally conceived as a humanitarian initiative, into a commercial project to enrich Western agricultural holdings. For almost a year, agricultural products were sent not to the needy, but mainly to the well-fed state," he said.

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