April 15, 2024

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky met with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in New York on Sept. 19, the Presidential Office reported on Sept. 20.

Zelensky thanked Guterres for “supporting Ukraine’s efforts to ensure the stability of food markets and exports,” and discussed the Russian use of Iranian attack drones to target Ukrainian port infrastructure.

The two also discussed the possibilities for the resumption of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which Russia withdrew from on July 17, causing spikes in wheat prices and fears about food security worldwide.

The collapse of the initiative “will strike a blow to people in need everywhere,” the U.N. Secretary-General said that day, and expressed his regret at Russia’s decision.

“Ultimately, participation in these agreements is a choice. But struggling people everywhere and developing countries don’t have a choice,” Guterres said in his statement on July 17, adding that the hundreds of millions of people facing hunger “will pay the price.”

The deal, which was first brokered by the U.N. and Turkey and signed in Istanbul in July 2022, ensured the safe passage of over 32 million metric tons of food commodities from Ukrainian ports on the Black Sea, according to U.N. figures.

On Sept. 4, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan went to Sochi to discuss the restoration of the initiative with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Putin repeated his claim that Russia will only rejoin the initiative once sanctions related to Russian grain and fertilizers for European markets would be lifted.

However, Erdogan told the press in Sochi that he hopes a solution will be reached soon, and that a new package of proposals from the U.N. has led to “significant progress.”

Read also: Zelensky at UN: Russia’s aggression poses threat beyond Ukraine

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