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Ukraine ready to continue exports despite Russian exit from grain deal: Zelensky

KYIV – President Volodymyr Zelensky said Monday that Ukraine is prepared to continue grain exports after Russia announced it was exiting a landmark deal brokered with Turkey and the UN to unblock deliveries from the major producer.

The agreement, which has enabled the export in cargo of more than 32 million tonnes of Ukrainian grain over the last year, is due to expire at 2100 GMT on Monday.

“Even without the Russian Federation, everything must be done so that we can use this Black Sea corridor,” Zelensky said in comments distributed on social media by his spokesman Sergiy Nykyforov.

“We are not afraid. We have been approached by companies that own ships. They said that they are ready” to continue shipments, he added.

In his evening address, Zelensky said: “Ukraine, the UN and Turkey can jointly ensure the operation of the food corridor and the inspection of ships.

“I have sent official letters to the President of Turkey (Recep Tayyip) Erdogan and UN Secretary General (Antonio) Guterres with a proposal to continue the work of the Black Sea Grain Initiative or its counterpart in a tripartite format – in the most reliable way.”

Putin has repeatedly threatened to pull out of the arrangement, arguing that elements of the deal allowing the export of Russian food and fertilisers have not been honoured.

Russia also accuses rich countries of profiting from the bulk of Ukrainian exports.

According to UN figures, China, Spain and Turkey are the three main beneficiaries of the grain shipments.

Zelensky said Monday that “60 per cent of the volumes” were exported to Africa and Asia. AFP

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