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Black Sea grain deal provides potential model for talks with Russia, Zelensky says

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk June 30, 2024 5:59 PM 2 min read
A ship moored in the Black Sea port of Odesa within the framework of the grain corridor, on Feb. 20, 2023. (Ukrinform/Future Publishing via Getty Images)
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Ukraine does not envisage direct negotiations with Russia but could use the model of a tripartite agreement similar to the Black Sea Grain Initiative brokered by the U.N. and Turkey in 2022, President Volodymyr Zelensky said in an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer published on June 30.

The agreement played a crucial role in mitigating a global surge in food prices partially caused by Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine by allowing Kyiv to export its agricultural products via the Black Sea despite the ongoing invasion.

Russia pulled out of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, effectively collapsing the deal, in July 2023.

The deal was the result of tripartite negotiations, where Ukraine signed the agreement with Turkey and the U.N., while Russia signed its own corresponding agreement with the same mediators.

This model could be used for issues like territorial integrity, energy, and shipping, Zelensky said, responding to a question on whether Ukraine could hold direct negotiations with Russia.

Zelensky emphasized that the only possible peace negotiations would be based on Ukraine's peace formula, which calls for Russia to completely withdraw from Ukrainian territory and pay reparations, among other points.

Any other form of peace talks with Russia would not end the war, but encourage further territorial aggression, while "a ceasefire is the best option for the Russians so they can prepare for taking even more," Zelensky said.

"If the idea is to give up our territories, no, it will not solve the issue," Zelensky said.

Switzerland hosted Ukraine's global peace summit on June 15-16, with over 90 countries and organizations in attendance.

Seventy-eight states and four organizations signed the final joint communique of the peace summit on June 16. Nine more states joined the document after the event.

Kyiv is planning to arrange a second global peace summit before the end of 2024.

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