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UN Secretary General in Kyiv to meet with Zelensky, discuss grain deal

by The Kyiv Independent news desk March 8, 2023 9:34 AM 1 min read
U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy hold a joint press conference in Kyiv in April 2022. (Photo: Volodymyr Tarasov/ Ukrinform/Future Publishing via Getty Images)
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U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres arrived in Kyiv overnight to meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky and discuss extending the Black Sea Grain Initiative, according to Guterres' spokesman Stéphane Dujarric.

The renewal of the Black Sea Grain Initiative is critical, given that Ukraine is one of the world's top grain exporters. The deal was first signed in July 2022 to unblock Ukrainian grain exports amid Russia’s invasion of the country.

The deal, brokered by the United Nations and Turkey, is due to expire on March 18th. As signatories of the agreement, both Ukraine and Russia must agree to renew it. However, Russia has threatened to back out of the deal if their conditions are not met.

“(The) Russian side stressed that continuing the package agreement on grain is possible only if the interests of Russian agricultural and fertilizer producers in terms of unhindered access to world markets are taken into account,” the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement cited by Reuters on March 1.

However, the U.S. and Europe did not target Russian grain and fertilizer exports by sanctions imposed after the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on March 5 that his country was also working “hard” to renew the Black Sea Grain Initiative that has allowed Ukraine to export grain from three ports in southern Odesa Oblast, according to Reuters.

Explainer: What’s up with the ‘grain deal’ and Russia?

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