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Zelensky on Black Sea grain deal collapse: 'We are not afraid'

by Elsa Court July 17, 2023 7:01 PM 2 min read
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during joint press conference on the second day of the 2023 NATO Summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, on July 12, 2023. (Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
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President Volodymyr Zelensky was quoted saying that the Black Sea grain corridor can continue to operate even without Russia's participation.

Serhii Nykyforov, the president's spokesperson, said that the comments were made during an interview with African journalists.

"Even without the Russian Federation, everything must be done so that we can use this Black Sea corridor," Zelensky said, according to Nykyforov. Everyone other than Russia "is ready to continue to supply grain" he added.

"We are not afraid. We were approached by companies that own ships. They said that they were ready if Ukraine would allow and Turkey would let the ships pass," he said.

Ukraine is one of the world's largest suppliers of grain and the Black Sea Grain Initiative allowed Ukraine to continue exporting its grain amid Russia's full-scale invasion.

The deal was first brokered by Turkey and the UN in July 2022.

The deal was last extended for 60 days on May 17 and collapsed on July 17 when Russia announced it was pulling out of the agreement.  

According to the UN, the initiative had so far ensured the safe passage of over 32 million metric tons of food products from Ukrainian ports and helped to reduce food prices by over 23 percent since March 2022.

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.

Zelensky also said the agreement never consisted of a deal between Ukraine and Russia. There were two agreements: One between Ukraine, Turkey and the UN, and another agreement between Russia, Turkey and the UN.

"Therefore, when Russia says that it is stopping, it is breaking its agreements with UN Secretary General (António) Guterres and with (Turkish) President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Not with us." he stated.

A representative of the United Nations office in Istanbul confirmed that the UN has received a written notification from Moscow about withdrawing from the grain agreement.

Erdogan has claimed that Russia still wants the deal to be extended and will continue discussions.

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