The Black Sea grain shipment deal must continue and could operate without Russian participation after Moscow’s withdrawal on Monday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said.
Ukraine, Zelensky said in his nightly video address, was a food source for 400 million people. “Africa has the right to stability. Asia has the right to stability,” he said.
Russia halted participation on Monday in the year-old agreement that lets Ukraine export grain through a Black Sea safe shipping corridor, causing concern in poorer countries that price rises will put food out of reach.
Moscow suggested that if demands to improve exports of its own grain and fertilizer were met it would consider resurrecting the deal formally known as the Black Sea Grain Initiative.
The deal brokered by the United Nations and Turkey was hailed as preventing a global food emergency following Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine and blockade of Black Sea ports.
“Ukraine, the UN and Turkey together can ensure the operation of a food corridor and vessel inspections. This is necessary for the entire world,” Zelensky said.
In a separate message on the Telegram app, Zelensky said that in a phone conversation with United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, the two men agreed “to work together, and with the relevant countries, to renew food security and food shipments by way of the Black Sea.”
In his video message, the Ukrainian president said the world now “has the opportunity to show that blackmail is not allowed for anyone … We must all ensure security, protection from Russian madness.
“The Black Sea Grain Initiative can and should continue to operate – if without Russia, then without Russia.”
Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, who is in New York this week to participate in a UN Security Council meeting, urged Russia to stop “playing hunger games.”
Also Monday, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the United States will continue to work with other countries to ensure movement of grain out of Ukraine.
The deal in place for the last year expired on Monday after Russia quit and warned it could not guarantee the safety of ships in a move the United Nations said would “strike a blow to people in need everywhere.”
The United States is not considering using U.S. military assets to help protect grain shipments, Mr. Kirby said.