KIEV (Reuters) – The United Nations has suggested that Kiev, Moscow and Ankara begin preparations to transport Russian ammonia through Ukraine as it tries to salvage a deal that would allow safe grain exports from the Black Sea, a source close to the talks said. Wednesday.
The source, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said that as preparations begin, the United Nations wants to hold parallel talks on expanding the Black Sea deal agreed last July to include more Ukrainian ports and other cargo.
Russia this month agreed to extend the deal by two months, but said the initiative would stop unless an agreement aimed at overcoming obstacles to Russian grain and fertilizer exports was met.
The source said that Ukraine and Turkey have agreed on the new proposal, which aims to improve operations in the grain export corridor in the Black Sea, but Russia has yet to respond.
Asked about the Reuters report at a daily briefing, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said talks were continuing.
As you remember, the Secretary General put forward some ideas to the two parties to better facilitate the work of the Joint Coordination Center, as well as work on the issue of exporting ammonia, which is part of the deal that was signed. Conversations and communications are ongoing. But that’s what I’m going to say now.”
The United Nations and Turkey brokered the Black Sea Grains Initiative between Moscow and Kiev last July to help address a global food crisis exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the world’s largest exporter of grain.
An appeal to improve the grain aisle
The source told Reuters that the United Nations had delivered “a formal appeal to the leaders of Ukraine, Turkey and Russia with a proposal for a specific mutually beneficial algorithm to radically improve” the work of the grain corridor.
Ukraine and Turkey confirmed their readiness to work on the algorithm proposed by the Secretary-General. Meanwhile, until May 30, Russia did not give its consent, although there were favorable positions in the algorithm.
Ukrainian officials said that since mid-April, Russia has imposed “unreasonable restrictions” on the work of the Black Sea grain deal.
Russia denied this and urged all parties to cancel the ban on transit of ammonia through the Ukrainian port of Pivdenye near the Black Sea port of Odessa, which was suspended after the Russian invasion in February last year.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in his nightly video address, accused Russia of obstructing all activities in Pivdenye, with 1.5 million tons of agricultural products unable to move. He said other countries should take this into account.
“All maritime countries can now see what could threaten their ports and coasts if Russia moves away from preventing navigation in the Black Sea,” Zelensky said.
“In other words, the blockade of a port in Ukraine poses very serious risks for different countries, especially those with relationships that Russia is trying to use for speculative purposes.”
Ukrainian authorities said workers would need about 30 days to prepare the pipeline to pump the ammonia again.
Ukraine’s deputy minister for renovation said on Tuesday that Kiev is seeking guarantees from Moscow and the United Nations that the grain deal will work normally if Ukraine allows Russia to export ammonia through the pipeline.
A senior government source told Reuters this month that Kiev would consider allowing Russian ammonia to cross its territory for export on the condition that the Black Sea grain deal be expanded to include more Ukrainian ports and a wider range of commodities.
(Reporting by Pavel Politiuk; Editing by Timothy Heritage, Kirsten Donovan, Ron Popeski, Diane Kraft
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