UPDATE - NATO, Ukraine condemn Russia's withdrawal from Black Sea grain deal
Secretary General Stoltenberg says NATO is united and allies continue to step up for Ukraine
UPDATES WITH NATO STATEMENT
By Beyza Binnur Donmez
GENEVA (AA) - NATO and Ukraine condemn Russia's recent withdrawal from the Black Sea grain deal, the alliance chief said on Wednesday.
"We condemn Russia's withdrawal from the grain deal, its cynical weaponisation of hunger, and its dangerous actions in the Black Sea," NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg tweeted after an "important" meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Council.
"NATO is united — Allies continue to step up for Ukraine, and increase vigilance in the region," he added.
The alliance and Kyiv also condemned Russia’s recent missile attacks on Odesa, Mykolaiv, and other Ukrainian port cities, including Moscow’s “cynical” drone attack this week on the Ukrainian grain storage facility in the Danube River port city of Reni, very close to the Romanian border, a NATO statement regarding the meeting said.
"Allies noted that Russia’s new warning area in the Black Sea, within Bulgaria’s exclusive economic zone, has created new risks for miscalculation and escalation, as well as serious impediments to freedom of navigation," the statement said.
Stoltenberg stressed during the meeting that Moscow’s actions also pose substantial risks to the stability of the Black Sea region, which is of strategic importance to NATO.
Additionally, the allies welcomed "the continued efforts of Türkiye to revitalise the grain deal, and the efforts of other Allies – including Bulgaria and Romania – as well as the European Union and the United Nations to enable the continued export of Ukrainian grain by land and sea.”
The NATO members reiterated their commitment to continue to support Ukraine with significant military, economic, and humanitarian assistance.
On July 17, Russia pulled out of the Black Sea grain deal, saying the Russian part of the agreement was not being implemented, i.e. the removal of obstacles to its fertilizer exports, including the inclusion of the state-owned Russian Agricultural Bank in the SWIFT international payment system.
The agreement, signed in July 2022 in Istanbul by Türkiye, the UN, Russia, and Ukraine, was aimed at resuming grain exports from Ukrainian ports, which had been halted as a result of the Ukraine war which began that February.
The NATO-Ukraine Council was launched at the Vilnius, Lithuania summit earlier this month to bring Kyiv "closer" to the 31-member group. Wednesday marked its second meeting.
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