The UN looks forward to welcoming Russia back in the fulfilment of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which Moscow has halted following an attack on the Russian Black Sea Fleet, UN relief chief said.
“We are encouraged by Russia’s assurance that it is not pulling out of the initiative and it is only temporarily suspending activities in the implementation,” Martin Griffiths, UN UnderSecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, told a Security Council briefing on Monday.
Russia announced on Saturday that it would immediately and indefinitely suspend its implementation of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, accusing Ukraine of launching drone attacks against the Russian Black Sea Fleet’s ships and infrastructure under the cover of the humanitarian corridor set up for the implementation of the initiative.
On July 22, Russia and Ukraine separately signed a document in Istanbul with Turkey and the UN on grain and fertiliser exports from Ukraine and Russia to ensure supplies to global markets amid the Russia-Ukraine armed conflict, Xinhua news agency reported.
Thirty-eight countries have purchased nearly nine million ton of grain from Ukraine under the deal, which has a humanitarian impact on the reduction of prices and the calming of market volatility, Griffiths said.
It would be a grave abuse of the initiative if it were used in any way for military operational advantage, he noted.
On the alleged misuse of cargo vessels in the initiative for military purposes, Griffiths said that none were in the corridor on the night of October 29 when the reported attacks on the Russian fleet took place.
As part of the deal, a Joint Coordination Center (JCC) was established in Istanbul with representatives from the UN, Russia, Ukraine and Turkey to carry out safety inspections for cargo ships from and to the Ukrainian ports.
Russia has deployed a highly professional team at the JCC for the implementation of the deal, Griffiths said, adding that “we look forward to welcoming them back as a full and active participant in the fulfilment of the initiative”.
The initial duration of the agreement is 120 days. The parties had agreed that the deal could be extended automatically on the condition that no party objects.
The UN is ready to address concerns and listen to suggestions from all sides, as the 120-day extension point on November 19 is approaching, said Griffiths.
“The Black Sea Grain Initiative is too important to fail, stormy though the waters are,” he added.