Guterres and Zelensky called for the extension of the grain agreement with Russia

Guterres and Zelensky called for the extension of the grain agreement with Russia

>> Illustration photo – The cargo ship Glory (center) departs from the Ukrainian port of Odesa with a cargo of grain, August 7, 2022.

Kyiv – UN Secretary-General António Guterres and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy today called for an extension of the grain agreement with Russia that has allowed Kyiv to export agricultural crops from Ukraine's Black Sea ports to the world despite the ongoing war.

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The agreement is to be automatically extended on March 18, if no party raises reservations. However, Moscow has already indicated that obstacles to the export of agricultural commodities from Russia should first be removed before the agreement can proceed, Reuters wrote.

“Extending the agreement beyond March 18 is critically necessary for the whole world,” Zelenskyy said at today's joint press conference, according to the newspaper Ukrainska Pravda. Guterres, in turn, emphasized the importance of Ukrainian and Russian grain and fertilizer exports for global food security. According to him, the agreement enabled the export of 23 million tons of grain, and thanks to this “it was possible to reduce food prices in the world by almost 20 percent”.

The head of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Rebeca Grynspanová, who has now traveled with Guterres to the Ukrainian capital, will discuss the extension of the agreements with Russian officials next week. He will meet representatives of the Kremlin in Geneva, the UN spokesman said. “The Secretary General will do everything in his power to remove obstacles to the export of Russian fertilizers,” added Farhan Haq in response to Russian demands.

Russian demands have not yet been met, an unnamed Turkish diplomatic source told Reuters. However, Ankara is “working very hard to ensure the extension of the agreement.

Zelensky also thanked Guterres for clearly condemning Russian aggression. He also discussed with the guest how to end “Russian nuclear blackmail” and how to ensure the safety of all nuclear power plants in the warring country. The largest of them – the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant – has been occupied by the Russians since the beginning of the invasion. Zelenskyy today emphasized that this power plant should be transferred fully into Ukrainian hands.

The grain agreement was for mediation The UN and Turkey closed last July initially for 120 days, in November it was extended.

Guterres is visiting Ukraine for the third time since the outbreak of the war, which began with the invasion of Russian troops into Ukraine last February 24.