If grain deal ends, UN pledge on Russian exports ‘will go on’

Published June 20, 2023
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Gru­shko. — Photo courtesy: TASS
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Gru­shko. — Photo courtesy: TASS

MOSCOW: Russian deputy foreign minister said on Monday that even if a deal allowing shipments of Ukrainian grain via the Black Sea ends, Russia’s agreement with the United Nations to ease its own exports will stay in force, state news agency RIA reported on Monday.

Moscow has repeatedly said it sees little chance of agreeing an extension of the Black Sea Grain Initiative beyond July 18, because it says Western sanctions are thwarting its own UN-backed attempts to export both grain and fertiliser.

Asked by RIA if the collapse of the grain deal would invalidate its memorandum with the UN, Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Gru­shko said: “No, it will not.” After invading leading grain exporter Ukraine last year, Russia blockaded its Black Sea ports, contributing to a global surge in food prices.

To help persuade Russia to allow grain ships safe passage under the Black Sea initiative last July, a separate three-year agreement was also struck in which the UN agreed to help Russia with its food and fertiliser exports. But Moscow has repeatedly complained that Western sanctions imposed in response to the invasion continue to create financial, logistical and insurance obstacles to its shipments.

PoWs

Kyiv on Monday accused Hungary of barring access to eleven Ukrainian prisoners of war that Russia handed over to the EU country, which has maintained ties with the Kremlin during the invasion of Ukraine.

Ukraine says Hungary barring access to PoWs handed over by Russia

The Russian Orthodox Church said earlier this month that a group of Ukrainian prisoners of war from Transcarpathia — a region home to an ethnic Hungarian minority — had been transferred to Budapest.

Around 100,000 ethnic Hungarians live in Transcarpathia in western Ukraine.

On Monday Kyiv said Ukrainian officials have not been able to get access to the returned detainees.

“All attempts by Ukrainian diplomats over the past few days to establish direct contact with Ukrainian citizens have not been successful,” foreign ministry spokes­man Oleg Nikolenko said in a statement on Facebook. “Essen­tially they are being kept in isolation,” he said.

They communicate with relatives in the presence of third parties and are denied contact with the Ukr­ainian embassy, Nikolenko added. He accused Hungary of “ignoring” Kyiv’s attempts to establish dialogue.

“Dirty bomb”

One of Russia’s top spymasters said on Monday he hoped that the UN nuclear watchdog and the European Union would look into Ukrainian nuclear activity that he said might signal Kyiv was working on a “dirty bomb”.

Sergei Naryshkin, the head of Russia’s SVR foreign intelligence service, did not provide documentary evidence to back his assertions.

Kyiv has in the past said it takes its responsibilities for nuclear power very seriously while accusing Russia of recklessness when it comes to its control of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in southern Ukraine.

Naryshkin said in a statement that his service had information that a batch of “irradiated fuel” had secretly been sent from the Rivne nuclear plant in western Ukraine for disposal at a spent fuel storage facility in Chornobyl.

Published in Dawn, June 20th, 2023

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