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Ukraine has ‘plan B’ to export grain if deal with Moscow fails

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Ukraine has ‘plan B’ to export grain if deal with Moscow fails

© Reuters. The Liberian-flagged cargo ship K Sukret carrying grain under the United Nations Black Sea Grain Initiative awaits inspection in the southern anchorage of Istanbul, Turkey, May 17, 2023. REUTERS

KIEV (Reuters) – Ukraine is reportedly ready to continue exporting grain via the Black Sea under a “plan B” that does not include Russia’s backing, if Moscow voids its current peace deal. export of grain.

This was stated by the Minister of Agriculture of Ukraine.

The United Nations and Turkey brokered an agreement for passage of grain across the Black Sea between Moscow and Kiev last July to help address a global food crisis exacerbated in February 2022 by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a major world grain exporters.

Agriculture Minister Mykola Solsky told Reuters that Russia has already stopped using Ukraine’s main Black Sea port, Pivdennyi, despite the deal, and is only allowing one ship a day to deliver Ukrainian foodstuffs. to some countries.

The Kremlin has said it will allow more vessels to pass if all parties to the grain deal agree to unblock the transit of Russian ammonia through a pipeline through Ukrainian territory to Pivdennyi for export.

“The latest actions that took place yesterday, the day before yesterday, today highlight the fact that this corridor seems to work only on a legal level, when in reality nothing is happening,” said Solsky.

In an interview in Kiev, the Minister of Agriculture said: “This is not the way it should be and therefore we will be ready for a plan B, which depends on us, depends on the United Nations. I doubt we will be watching if it continues like this in the future.” near future,” he added.

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Solsky has proposed that the Ukrainian government could offer insurance guarantees to companies to continue sailing without involving Russia in a new deal.

“Plan B (…) excludes the fourth party (Russia) in this relationship,” he said.

The minister said the government had already created a special insurance fund of around $547 million for companies whose ships would arrive at Ukrainian Black Sea ports under a new deal.

“If the traffic is completely stopped, which in fact has almost already happened, the carriers will be able to pass through this corridor with the insurance guaranteed by our government”, he explained.

Solsky said ship owners can have “pretty strong” confidence that the Ukrainian military and air defenses “can do their job.”

The minister added that Ukraine still hopes that the current Black Sea wheat initiative can work despite the current difficulties, while any new option would require a new deal or a new model.

“Since in legal terms the first model is effective and we place our hope in it, we will try to make it work and then, if we have nothing to lose, of course we will discuss the details of plan ‘B’,” Solsky said.

A UN spokesman said yesterday that Russia had informed officials overseeing the initiative that Moscow would limit registrations at the Pivdennyi port until all parties agree to unblock the transit of Russian ammonia.

(Translated by Chiara Bontacchio, editing by Claudia Cristoferi)

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