KIEV, June 1 (Reuters) – Ukraine’s Ministry of Renovation and Infrastructure said on Thursday that the United Nations-brokered export deal for grain from the Black Sea has again been halted because Russia has restricted the registration of ships in all Ukrainian ports have blocked.
The United Nations and Turkey brokered the Black Sea Grains Initiative between Moscow and Kiev last July to help address a global food crisis exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a leading global grain exporter.
Russia agreed to a two-month extension to the deal in May, but said the initiative would be shelved unless an agreement was reached to remove obstacles to Russian grain and fertilizer exports.
“The Joint Coordination Center in Istanbul (which oversees the initiative) has announced that due to another unjustified refusal by the Russian delegation to register the incoming fleet to participate in the initiative, it is impossible to draw up an inspection plan for June 1st ” said the Ukrainian ministry on Facebook.
It said Russia had only registered one incoming ship for inspection in the last two days of May and had not provided an explanation for the move, which the ministry described as a “gross violation” of the initiative.
Russia did not immediately comment on the ministry’s statement.
Ukrainian officials said that since mid-April Russia has “unduly restricted” work on the Black Sea Grains Agreement.
It said 50 ships were awaiting inspection in Turkish territorial waters and ready to ship 2.4 million tons of Ukrainian food abroad. Some ships have been awaiting inspection for more than three months.
The ministry also criticized Russia’s blockade of Odessa’s main port, Pivdennyi, which was not part of the UN-brokered initiative.
Russia has previously denied any wrongdoing, but has urged all parties to the grain deal to clear the transit of Russian ammonia so it can be exported via a pipeline running from Russia through Ukrainian territory to Pivdennyi.
A senior government source told Reuters that Kyiv would consider allowing Russian ammonia to transit through its territory for export, on condition that the Black Sea Grains Agreement be extended to more Ukrainian ports and a wider range of goods.
(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk, Timothy Heritage Editor)
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