June 6, 2022


UN aid chief held discussions with Russia about Ukraine grain exports



Martin Griffiths, the United Nations (UN) aid chief, held constructive talks with Russian officials in Moscow on enabling Ukrainian grain exports from Black Sea ports, Reuters reported.


Ukrainian grain shipments from its Black Sea ports have stalled since Russia's invasion of Ukraine on February 24, and more than 20 million tonnes of grain are stuck in silos.


Vassily Nebenzia, Russian UN Ambassador said it was the Ukrainians who installed the mines in the coastal area, and they are prepared to provide safe passage for grain-carrying ships if the area is demined.


When asked if a security agreement could be reached to allow for demining, Nebenzia said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov planned to discuss the matter during his visit to Turkey next week.


Griffiths' visit to Russia came just days after another senior UN official, Rebeca Grynspan, met with Russian grain and fertiliser exporters in Moscow for discussions. The chilling effect of Western sanctions, Russia claims, has harmed those exports.


UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is attempting to broker a "package deal" that would allow both Ukrainian and Russian food and fertiliser exports to resume. On Wednesday, he said that any agreement to unblock commodity shipments, such as grain, was still a long way off.


The conflict in Ukraine between Russia and Ukraine has exacerbated a global food crisis, with prices for grains, cooking oils, fuel, and fertiliser all skyrocketing. Russia and Ukraine produce nearly a third of the world's wheat. Russia also exports fertiliser, and Ukraine is a major corn and sunflower oil exporter.


According to the Belta news agency, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko told Guterres that Belarus is willing to allow the transit of Ukrainian grain to Baltic Sea ports via Belarus if Belarusian goods can be shipped from these ports.


-      Reuters

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