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Ukraine committed to global grain supply initiative, ambassador to Saudi Arabia says

RIYADH: Ukraine is committed to fulfilling its obligation as a food security guarantor under a grain supply initiative, its ambassador to Saudi Arabia said on Thursday.

“President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky presented a humanitarian initiative titled ‘Grain from Ukraine’ which envisages providing Ukrainian grain to at least 5 million people across the world by the summer of 2023,” Anatolii Petrenko told Arab News.

“So far, under the auspices of the World Food Program, seven vessels with 220,000 tons of Ukrainian wheat have been sent to countries most reliant on Ukrainian grain.

“In total, Ukraine has already exported more than 10 million tons of grain since the launch of the Black Sea Grain Initiative. And now, Ukraine is ready to increase grain exports by a few times.”

Petrenko added that Russia’s invasion had pushed 70 million people around the world to the verge of starvation.

“The right to food is one of the most important rights of every person in the world, and the Ukrainian grain export initiative deserves to be expanded indefinitely, regardless of when the war ends,” he said.

“Experts emphasize that more than 400 million people in the world depend on the grain supplies from Ukraine. The world food market is not flexible, which means that it will be impossible to replace Ukrainian products through the diversification of supplies from other countries, even in the next four to five years.”

Ukraine’s Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said on Twitter on Thursday that the “#BlackSeaGrainInitiative will be prolonged for 120 days,” calling it “another important step in the global fight against the (global) food crisis.”

The war in Ukraine has seen the price of grains soar to record highs, with the UN warning of a worsening food crisis in the world’s poorest countries.

In July, an agreement brokered by the UN, Russian Federation and Turkiye under the Black Sea Grain Initiative helped curb prices and stave off a global crisis by allowing the export of food and fertilizers from several of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports that had been blockaded by Russia.

On Nov. 1, Russian President Vladimir Putin told Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a telephone call that he wanted guarantees from Kyiv before it potentially rejoined the grain deal.

Russia sought “real guarantees from Kyiv about the strict observance of the Istanbul agreement, in particular about not using the humanitarian corridor for military purposes,” according to a statement from the Kremlin.

The Turkiye and UN-brokered deal allowed Ukrainian grain exports to resume in August, easing a food crisis caused by the conflict.

But Russia accused Ukraine of misusing the safe shipping corridor for an attack on Russian ships in Crimea and suspended its participation in the agreement.

Ukraine said Russia’s claim was a “false pretext” to withdraw from the deal.

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