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Ukraine Campaigns for Resumption of Black Sea Grain Initiative 

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and his Pakistan's counterpart Bilawal Bhutto Zardari address a joint press conference in Islamabad on July 20, 2023.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and his Pakistan's counterpart Bilawal Bhutto Zardari address a joint press conference in Islamabad on July 20, 2023.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, during a visit Thursday to Pakistan, called for the restoration of the Black Sea Grain Initiative to meet the global food security challenge.

Kuleba spoke to reporters in Islamabad with his Pakistani counterpart, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, to open his two-day official visit, the first by a Ukrainian foreign minister since the two countries established diplomatic ties in 1993.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative deal was brokered last year by the United Nations and Turkey, lifting a Russian blockade on Ukrainian ports that Russia imposed after its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Moscow announced on Monday its withdrawal from the agreement, which is credited with easing food shortages and inflation in many countries that depend on Ukrainian grain to feed their populations.

"We regret that it will be Ukraine, countries of Asia and Africa who will suffer the most from Russia's withdrawal. By doing so, Russia has significantly undermined global food security, and we already see prices going up," Kuleba said.

"This is why it is so important to make everything possible to restore the Black Sea Grain Initiative to return balance to the global food market, to return prices under control, and to give Ukraine the possibility to provide cereals to the countries who need it the most."

He said that after withdrawing from the agreement, Russia attacked Ukrainian ports with missiles on Wednesday and destroyed port infrastructures, making it even harder for the country to restore exports.

Russia has warned ships against sailing to the Ukrainian Black Sea ports from Thursday, saying they would be seen as potential military targets.

Kuleba asserted Russia was campaigning to destroy its competitor in the global market. "In one terminal, they destroyed 60,000 [metric] tons of grain that was designated to China."

The Ukrainian chief diplomat urged Pakistan to voice its support for the resumption of the crucial deal to enable Ukraine to ship its grain to the global market, noting that "land corridors cannot export the full amount of cereals available for export, which means that prices will go up due to the shortage of delivery.”

Zardari supported his Ukrainian counterpart's statement, saying the suspension of the Black Sea Grain Initiative is adversely affecting developing countries, including Pakistan, and its restoration is crucial to contain food prices.

"It is not only in our interest, but we believe it is in the developing world's interest that this grain initiative is restored.," the Pakistani minister said.

"I will be reaching out to the United Nations secretary- general, to my counterparts in Turkey, in Russia to discuss Pakistan's concerns and our desire for the Black Sea Grain Initiative to be restored," he said.

Zardari also rejected as unfounded media reports alleging that Pakistan was providing military supplies to Ukraine.

"Since the war began, we have not concluded any agreement for defense supplies to Ukraine, keeping in view our principled, consistent, and non-partisan position," the Pakistani foreign minister stated.

Kuleba backed his counterpart, saying there "are no contracts or intergovernmental arrangements" between Ukraine and Pakistan for such supplies.