President Volodymyr Zelensky on Friday said the United Nations was responsible for guaranteeing a landmark deal between Ukraine and Russia aimed at unblocking Ukrainian Black Sea grain exports and alleviating a global food crisis.
“Russia could engage in provocations, attempts to discredit the Ukrainian and international efforts. But we trust the United Nations. Now it’s their responsibility to guarantee the deal,” he said in his daily video address.
Russia and Ukraine signed an agreement on Black Sea grain exports in Istanbul on Friday, with Turkey and the UN as co-guarantors.
Both countries are major exporters of agricultural products, but the war has severely disrupted Ukrainian wheat exports as the fighting damaged harvests and left ports blocked and mined.
The warring parties signed two separate but identical texts, with Ukraine refusing to sign the same document as the Russians.
Zelensky said the deal was “entirely” in Ukraine’s interests and that the Ukrainian military would fully control access to the ports.
He added that around 20 million tonnes of produce from last year’s harvest and the current crop would be exported thanks to the agreement, estimating the value of Ukraine’s grain stock at around $10 billion.
“There is a chance to reduce the seriousness of the food crisis caused by Russia and prevent a global catastrophe — a famine that could lead to political chaos in many countries, particularly those that help us,” he said.
“It’s another demonstration that Ukraine is capable of resisting this war.”
Ukraine’s Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said grain exports from Black Sea ports could resume within days.
“The agreement was signed under our conditions. There has not been any betrayal,” he said.
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