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Zelensky asks Stoltenberg to convene NATO-Ukraine Council over grain deal crisis

by The Kyiv Independent news desk July 22, 2023 10:37 PM 2 min read
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President Volodymyr Zelensky said he asked NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg during a phone call on June 22 to convene the NATO-Ukraine Council to discuss the terminated Black Sea Grain Initiative.

"I turned to Jens with a proposal to urgently convene such a council for appropriate crisis consultations. The meeting will take place in a few days. We can overcome the security crisis in the Black Sea," Zelensky said.

NATO launched the NATO-Ukraine Council, aimed at enabling closer coordination between Kyiv and the alliance, and extended the Comprehensive Assistance Package (which provided 500 million euros in defense aid so far) into a multi-year program after the summit in Vilnius held on July 11.

Zelensky said earlier on July 22 that he spoke with Stoltenberg by phone about sustaining the Black Sea Grain Initiative.

Black Sea grain deal collapses as Russia pulls from agreement
Russia announced on July 17 that it is pulling out of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, critical for ensuring global food security, effectively collapsing the deal.

Russia dealt a significant blow to global food security on July 17 by announcing its withdrawal from the grain deal.

Brokered by Turkey and the U.N. last July, the grain deal has allowed Ukraine to export its agricultural products through the Black Sea during wartime. Ukraine is one of the world's top grain suppliers.

The deal has been integral in alleviating global food price surges caused by Russia's full-scale war against Ukraine.

Russia went on to launch a series of missile and drone strikes against Ukraine's port infrastructure in Odesa Oblast and destroyed 60,000 tons of grain after withdrawing from the deal.

According to Zelensky, he and Stoltenberg "determined the priority and future steps necessary for the unblocking and sustainable functioning of the Black Sea grain corridor."

Zelensky also reached out to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan about the grain deal on July 21.

"We coordinated efforts to restore the operation of the Black Sea Grain Initiative. Due to Russia's actions, the world is once again on the brink of a food crisis. A total of 400 million people in many countries in Africa and Asia are at risk of starvation," Zelensky said.

Ukraine gets a fraction of what it wanted at NATO summit
Ukraine collected many promises at Vilnius, except the one it craved the most. In a joint communique, the 31 NATO member states said Ukraine’s future is in the alliance, which it will one day join. They got rid of the need for a Membership Action Plan, effectively reducing the number
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