A senior UN official had “constructive discussions” in Moscow with Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov on facilitating Russian grain and fertiliser exports to global markets, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric has said.
The UN official, Rebecca Grynspan, is now in Washington for talks on the same issue “with the key aim of addressing growing global food insecurity”, Dujarric said on Tuesday.
US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said the United States was prepared to give “comfort letters” to shipping and insurance companies to help facilitate exports of Russian grain and fertiliser.
She noted that Russian grain and fertiliser were not directly sanctioned by the United States but that “companies are a little nervous and we’re prepared to give them comfort letters if that will help to encourage them”.
Russia’s war in Ukraine has fueled a global food crisis with prices for grains, cooking oils, fuel and fertiliser soaring. Russia and Ukraine account for nearly a third of global wheat supplies, while Russia is also a key fertiliser exporter and Ukraine is a major exporter of corn and sunflower oil.
Since Russia invaded on February 24, Ukrainian grain shipments from its Black Sea ports have stalled and more than 20 million tonnes of grain are stuck in silos, while Moscow says the chilling effect of Western sanctions imposed on Russia over the war has disrupted its fertiliser and grain exports.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who visited Moscow and Kyiv last month, is trying to broker what he calls a “package deal” to resume both Ukrainian food exports and Russian food and fertiliser exports.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Monday that Russia was ready to facilitate the unhindered export of grain from Ukrainian ports in coordination with Turkey, according to a Kremlin readout of talks with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
“The secretary-general is extremely grateful for the support that Turkey is giving in addressing the situation in the Black Sea and supporting the secretary-general’s own efforts,” Dujarric said.
Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron said he hoped that in the next days and weeks agreement could be reached with Russia to allow more exports of food from Ukraine.
He said recent talks on the matter between the Russian and Turkish presidents had produced “positive conclusions”.
“I hope that the next few days or weeks will make it possible to resolve this situation,” Macron added.
During his last conversation with Putin and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Macron said he had made an offer to Putin to draft a UN Security Council resolution providing a framework for the release of grain from Ukraine’s blocked seaports.
“Security guarantees must be given to the Ukrainians so their ships are not attacked,” Macron said. “We are now waiting for a reply from Russia on this point and are liaising with the UN secretary-general.”
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