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UN optimistic about Ukraine grain deal; Russia has reservations

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UNITED NATIONS (UKTN) – A senior UN official said on Wednesday he is “relatively optimistic” that the deal to return Ukrainian grain and Russian grain and fertilizers to world markets will be extended beyond mid-November, but Russia’s U.N. ambassador said Moscow needs movement. first on its own export.

The deal brokered by the United Nations and Turkey in July has seen more than 8.5 million tons of food shipped from three Black Sea ports in Ukraine.

But Russian envoy Vassily Nebenzia told reporters that “Russia needs to see the export of its grain and fertilizers on the world market, which has never happened since the start of the deal.”

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The deal has a limit of 120 days. UN humanitarian aid chief Martin Griffiths, who has focused on the Ukrainian side of the deal, and senior UN trade official Rebeca Grynspan, who has focused on the Russian side, were in Moscow earlier this month for talks with Russian officials, including an extension.

“We want this to be refreshed soon now,” Griffiths said in response to a question. “It is important for the market. It is important for continuity only. And I’m still relatively optimistic that we’re going to make it. We are working hard.”

The Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24 caused supplies of grain and fertilizer from the world’s two main suppliers to be halted, leading to food shortages and rising prices, especially in developing countries.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres first raised the critical need to resume supplies of Ukrainian agricultural production and Russian grain and fertilizers to world markets at the end of April during meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow and the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kiev.

Guterres then proposed the deal, citing fears that the war could further exacerbate the hunger of 181 million people, especially in poorer developing countries.

On the Ukraine side, the Joint Coordination Center that oversees the logistics and inspection of ships said Monday there was a backlog: 113 ships registered for inspection and another 60 ships waiting to take cargo.

It noted that the next Ukrainian harvest is approaching and that the silos will soon be full again in the three ports – Odessa, Chernomorsk and Yuzhny. The center said it has expanded its inspection teams and is discussing ways to improve its operation.

The Ukrainian president accused Russia on Saturday of artificially creating a line of some 150 ships to delay Ukrainian shipments.

Nebenzia said the hurdles that must be overcome to allow Russian grain and fertilizers to reach the global market remain the same as they were in July: taking out insurance for ships, conducting financial transactions, finding ports of call for Russian ships and clearing fertilizers on ships detained in European ports. that “we have pledged to distribute for free to countries in need.”

The manure, he said, is slowly being “destroyed because these types of fertilizers cannot be stored indefinitely.”

“These are the main things that were on the agenda a few months ago, and they’re still the same,” Nebenzia said. “We recognize that the Secretary General and his team are doing their best to resolve these issues. But unfortunately it doesn’t just depend on them.”