Ukraine calls on world to pressure Russia over grain deal

Ukraine on Tuesday called for global powers to pressure Russia as the future of the Black Sea grain deal, which will soon expire, remains unclear.

Earlier, UN chief Antonio Guterres proposed a “way forward aimed at the improvement, extension and expansion” of the deal, which will expire on May 18, in a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin.Ukrainian presidential adviser Mikhail Podolyak supported the letter, telling the Reuters news agency that Guterres’s initiative can succeed only “if the international community collectively pressures Russia”.

“Ukraine, on the other hand, will continue to follow the agreements with Turkey and the UN and will continue to deliver grain cargoes to their destination, solving the problem of global food supply,” he added.

Guterres had asked Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to deliver the letter to Putin, after meeting at the UN headquarters on Monday.

Lavrov said Moscow would study the letter.

Grain deal
The deal was brokered by Turkey and the United Nations last July to allow Ukraine to resume grain exports from its Black Sea ports; it has been renewed twice since.

Moscow-based journalist Yulia Shapovalova said negotiations were continuing as Guterres considers “Moscow’s concerns about the supply of food fertiliser”, one of the main obstacles Russia has cited.On Tuesday, the Kremlin said that a global shortfall in food supplies could not be wholly attributed to Russia and Ukraine, and reiterated that the deal was not working for Moscow.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, “Despite the fact that so much time has passed, [the deal] has not yet been implemented, it has not come together as a package, the conditions that concerned us have still not been realised.”

“Therefore, while the circumstances don’t add up in favour of this deal, we continue to observe.”

Russia’s defence ministry has accused Ukraine of using the grain corridor to attack Russian vessels in the Black Sea, while former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev threatened Moscow’s withdrawal should G7 countries ban exports to Russia.

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