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Kuleba: ‘Two steps’ from an agreement with Russia on the export of Ukrainian grain

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Kuleba: ‘Two steps’ from an agreement with Russia on the export of Ukrainian grain

Ukraine is “two steps away” from concluding an agreement with Russia to export Ukrainian grain to international markets, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told Spanish television El Pais ahead of the start of talks on the issue in Istanbul.

Delegations of the armed forces of Russia, Ukraine and Turkey are meeting today with United Nations officials in Istanbul, as part of talks on the possible resumption of Ukrainian grain exports from the large port of Odessa, on the Black Sea, while the global food crisis is getting worse.

Turkey, which has taken on a mediating role in coordination with the UN, is trying to help reach an agreement as the Russian military invasion of Ukrainian territory has sent prices of grain, cooking oil, fuel and fertilizers skyrocketing.

“We are ready to export grain to the international market (…) we are two steps away from an agreement with Russia,” Kouleba stressed.

“Security concerns linked to Russia’s stance must be addressed. We are in the final phase and now everything depends on Russia,” he added.

When asked why Moscow might now be ready to reach a deal, the Ukrainian minister said he believed Russia wanted to “show countries in Africa and Asia that it wants to save them from food shortages.” However, he estimated that Moscow might prolong the talks.

Russia, for its part, accuses Ukraine of obstructing the conclusion of an agreement.

Diplomats explain that the plan under discussion calls for Ukrainian ships to ferry cargo in and out of mined ports; Russia to declare a ceasefire on the movement of the ships; and that Turkey – with the support of the United Nations – inspect trucks to assuage Russian concerns about arms smuggling.

The Russian military invasion and naval blockade in the Black Sea have effectively halted exports, blocking dozens of ships and over 20 tons of grain in silos in Odessa.

The upcoming crop is also at risk as Ukraine is short on storage space due to the halt in exports.

SOURCE: AMPE

Source: Capital

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