Espreso. Global

Ukraine considers new route for ‘grain deal’, through Romania, Bulgaria

19 July, 2023 Wednesday
15:04

Ukraine is considering transporting food as part of the grain initiative through the territorial waters of Bulgaria and neighboring Romania

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Ambassador of Ukraine to Turkey Vasyl Bodnar said this during the national telethon.

According to him, despite the fact that Russia has officially withdrawn from the grain deal, Ukraine, in turn, proposes to the UN and Turkey, the mediators of this initiative, to extend it in a trilateral format. Bodnar explained that the export of Ukrainian grain is extremely important for ensuring global food security.

He added that Turkey's position in this situation, namely its willingness to negotiate with Russia, is a traditional policy of the country in order to satisfy its interests. The ambassador also noted that Turkey is seeking to continue mediation services, as it is trying to find a "middle ground" and minimize risks as a mediator in the grain deal.

"Let's be honest. Russia, having withdrawn from the agreement, said that it does not guarantee security. This means that they will shell ports, infrastructure and possibly ships. This is the risk," Bodnar said.

He also noted that the Russians may not follow through on all the threats they say they will, but the threat remains and it will affect, among other things, encryption companies and insurance.

At the same time, the ambassador said that Ukraine has created a fund to guarantee these risks.

"We also have the ability to engage ships and companies that are ready to provide these ships for grain transportation. From our point of view, this can be realized even without using this route, which has already been agreed upon, but through the territorial waters of Romania and Bulgaria. This is also a possible option to minimize risks," he emphasized.

Bodnar also added that in this case, the international community should be responsible for helping Ukraine implement such a scenario, and on the other hand, putting pressure on Russia to prevent its possible attacks.

What is known about the grain deal

The agreement, known as the Black Sea Grain Initiative, was concluded separately between Russia and the UN and Ukraine and the UN, with Turkish mediation, in July 2022 in Istanbul. It has since been extended several times.

In January, the Ministry of Infrastructure said that as a result of Russian actions in the Bosphorus, the world loses millions of tons of Ukrainian food every month. The occupiers are hampering the inspection of ships that export grain to third world countries.

In March 2023, the Russian Federation informed the parties to the agreement to extend the agreement for only 60 days instead of 120. The agreement was due to expire on May 18.

To continue it, the occupiers demanded:

  • reconnection of Rosselkhozbank to SWIFT

  • resumption of supply of agricultural machinery, spare parts and service

  • lifting restrictions on insurance and reinsurance plus lifting the ban on access to ports

  • resumption of the Togliatti-Odesa ammonia pipeline

  • unblocking foreign assets and accounts of Russian companies related to the production and transportation of food and fertilizers.

On May 17, the grain deal was extended for 60 days. The Russians' demands were not met.

On June 5, the Russian Federation said it saw no prospects for extending the agreement in July, and on June 22, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said it did not see the Russians' readiness to continue the grain initiative.

Doubts about the continuation of the grain deal were also voiced in the UK on July 4.

On July 5, the UN announced its readiness to send a representative to Moscow to "save the grain deal."

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on July 8 that his country is working on extending the grain deal for two years.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has offered Russian President Putin to extend the grain deal in exchange for reconnecting Rosselkhozbank to SWIFT. The Kremlin had demanded this earlier

On July 12, Turkey’s Erdogan said that he had received proposals from Putin to extend the grain deal.

On July 13, Putin said Russia will extend the grain deal when its demands are met. 

Ukraine is looking for alternative ways to supply grain to Africa, Europe and Asia.

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