Asl Tia, a cargo vessel carrying Ukrainian grain, sails on Bosphorus to Marmara sea, in Istanbul, on Nov 2, 2022.
(OZAN KOSE / AFP)
GENEVA / KIEV / ISTANBUL / MOSCOW – A breakthrough has been made on hundreds of thousands of tons of Russian-made fertilizer blocked in European ports, which is vital to avoid a global food insecurity crisis next year, a senior United Nations official said on Friday.
Nearly 11.2 million tons of essential foodstuffs have been shipped from three Ukrainian ports since the Black Sea Grain Initiative was signed on July 22 by Türkiye, Ukraine, Russia and the United Nations. The agreement is aimed at ensuring food supplies to global markets amid the Russia-Ukraine armed conflict.
However, 300,000 tons of Russian fertilizer remain stranded in various European ports, according to United Nations Conference on Trade and Development Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan.
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Grynspan welcomed Thursday's extension of the initiative, which expires on Saturday, by 120 days.
As negotiated via the UN World Food Program, a ship loaded with Russian fertilizer will depart from the Netherlands for Malawi, via Mozambique, next Monday.
"WFP is in charge of taking the fertilizer from the ports to the countries that need the fertilizer," Grynspan said.
Responding to questions about the reopening of an ammonia pipeline from Russia to the Black Sea, the UNCTAD secretary-general said that she was "optimistic that this could happen" with the agreement of Russia and Ukraine.
"Ammonia is included in the Black Sea Grain Initiative – explicitly – in the Memorandum Of Understanding with Russia," she said, adding that this meant a new agreement was not necessarily needed.
"The objective is to ease the pain that many developing countries are feeling because of food and fertilizers, energy and the financial crisis that we are living right now," she said.
UN chief, Zelensky hold phone call
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres held a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday, and discussed the future of the Black Sea Grain Initiative and ways to improve its impact on the least developed countries, said a UN spokesman on Friday.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres held a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday, and discussed the future of the Black Sea Grain Initiative and ways to improve its impact on the least developed countries, said a UN spokesman on Friday
"And regarding their discussions, the basic point is that we want to make sure that the sort of food aid that is being shipped across the Black Sea through the initiative is able to not only ease world food prices, which is important, but also to provide relief … for least developed countries," said Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for Guterres.
Haq did not provide more details on the telephone conversation.
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Guterres on Thursday welcomed the renewal of the Black Sea Grain Initiative for another 120 days.
The initial duration of the July 22 deal brokered by Türkiye and the United Nations is 120 days and expires on Nov 19. Russia and Ukraine agreed on Thursday to prolong the deal on the export of grain and fertilizers from Black Sea ports for another 120 days.
Ukraine, EU discuss fresh aid
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal and visiting European Commission's Executive Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis on Friday discussed the Russia-Ukraine conflict and fresh aid for Kiev, the Interfax-Ukraine news agency reported.
Speaking at a press conference after their talks, Shmyhal said that Russia's attacks have disabled about 50 percent of Ukraine's energy infrastructure.
Due to the ongoing energy crisis, Ukraine needs more support from partners, including the supplies of energy equipment and additional financial assistance, Shmyhal said.
For his part, Dombrovskis said that the EU plans to provide up to 18 billion euros (about $18.65 billion) in financial aid to Ukraine next year.
The assistance is set to be approved next month, and Ukraine may receive the first tranche as soon as January 2023, Dombrovskis said.
Dombrovskis arrived in Kiev earlier in the day for talks with Ukrainian authorities.
Putin, Erdogan discuss gas hub, grain export deal over phone
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan held a phone conversation on Friday to discuss the prospects of creating a gas hub in Türkiye and the extension of the Black Sea grain export deal.
Erdogan supports the initiative proposed by Putin in October of establishing a major natural gas hub in Türkiye, the Kremlin said in a statement.
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While Russia and Ukraine have agreed to prolong the deal on the export of grain and fertilizers from Black Sea ports for 120 days, Putin and Erdogan underscored the importance of implementing this package agreement comprehensively and completely, the statement said.
The leaders also noted the development of trade and economic ties between Russia and Türkiye, and praised the steady implementation of joint projects, including those in the nuclear power industry, the statement said.
Erdogan, Zelensky discuss Ukraine grain export deal
Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Volodymyr Zelensky also discussed the grain export deal, Türkiye's presidential office said in a statement on Friday.
During a phone call, Erdogan thanked Zelensky for his "constructive stance" on extending the agreement on the UN-backed grain export deal.
The Turkish leader also asked Zelensky to consider expanding the positive understanding on grain agreement and prisoner exchange to the negotiation table, including a possible cease-fire.
A day earlier, Erdogan announced that the Black Sea Grain Initiative agreement will be extended for 120 days as of Nov 19, after four-way talks hosted by Türkiye.