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Friday, March 31, 2023

Ukraine war: Grain export: UN Secretary General Guterres in Kiev

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The grain agreement between Ukraine and Russia is considered one of the few diplomatic bright spots since the beginning of the war. The agreement expires on March 18.

During a visit to Kiev, UN Secretary-General António Guterres spoke to the Ukrainian leadership about extending the Black Sea Grain Initiative. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said at a press conference with Guterres that his country’s grain exports are “critically necessary for the whole world”. They guaranteed a secure supply of food.

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According to Guterres, around 23 million tons of grain have been exported from Ukraine as part of the initiative since August 2022. “That helped lower the global cost of food,” said the 73-year-old. According to UN calculations, food prices fell by a good 20 percent last year. However, Guterres also mentioned the importance of Russian food and fertilizers for the global nutritional situation.

After invading Ukraine, Russia initially blocked all Ukrainian seaports. After Ukraine’s military successes in the Black Sea, the UN and Turkey mediated in obtaining Russian security guarantees for the transport of agricultural products. These apply to three ports around the city of Odessa. The previous agreement expires on March 18.

Topics of the talks were also the safety of the Ukrainian nuclear power plants. With six blocks, the largest power plant in Enerhodar in the Zaporizhia region has been under Russian control for almost a year. Kiev insists on returning to Ukrainian administration. “This is a question of global and not just Ukrainian security,” said Zelenskyy.

Guterres also mentioned the power station. However, he only spoke of a “complete demilitarization of the area” to be mediated as a prerequisite for normal operation of the nuclear facility. The power plant was shut down completely last September after repeated shelling. According to Russian information, there have been no new incidents for about three months.

Source: Stern

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