UN aid chief Martin Griffiths is in Moscow on Thursday and Friday to discuss clearing the way for grain and other food exports from Ukraine’s Black Sea port, a UN spokesman said.
Griffiths will meet with Russian officials just days after Rebecca Greenspan, another senior UN official in Moscow, met with Andrei Belosov, Russia’s first deputy prime minister, to speed up Russia’s grain and fertilizer exports.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is trying to broker a “package deal” to resume both Ukraine’s food exports and Russian food and fertilizer exports, which were hampered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.
“The situation remains fluid. The Secretary-General, and the two key people he has assigned to work on this, Rebecca Greenspan and Martin Griffiths – will go where we need to go to move this project forward,” said spokesman Stephen Dujarric.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Thursday that grain-carrying ships could leave Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea via “humanitarian corridors” and that Russia was ready to guarantee their safety, the Interfax news agency reported.
Russia’s war in Ukraine has exacerbated the global food crisis with rising prices for grain, cooking oil, fuel and fertilizer. Russia and Ukraine account for about one-third of global wheat supplies. Russia is also a fertilizer exporter and Ukraine a major exporter of corn and sunflower oil.
Ukraine’s grain shipments from its Black Sea ports have been suspended since the attack and more than 20 million tonnes of grain are stuck in Silo, while Moscow says the cold effects of Western sanctions imposed on Russia have hurt its fertilizer and grain exports.
The United States is ready to issue “consolation letters” to shipping and insurance companies to facilitate Russian grain and fertilizer exports, US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said on Tuesday.
But he added: “Russia is able to extract its oil, and it is allowed. They should be able to extract grain which is not allowed.”
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