After weeks of negotiations, the UN-brokered accord that facilitated the export of more than 30 million tons of Ukrainian grain to world markets through three Black Sea ports ended on 17 July.
“Today’s decision by the Russian Federation will harm people in need everywhere,” said Mr. Guterres, speaking to journalists at the UN Headquarters in New York.
Developing countries will suffer
The Black Sea initiative was agreed by Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and the UN in Istanbul in July along with a joint agreement between the UN and Russia on the export of grain and fertilizer from that country.
Through its decision, Russia also revoked security guarantees for ships sailing in the northwestern part of the Black Sea.
“Ultimately, joining these agreements is a choice. But struggling people everywhere and developing countries have no choice,” said Mr. Guterres.
‘Flame of hope’
The grain initiative and the Memorandum of Understanding with Russia are “a lifeline for global food security and a beacon of hope in a troubled world,” he said.
“At a time when food production and availability are disrupted by conflict, climate change, energy prices and more, these agreements have helped reduce food prices by more than 23 percent since March last year,” he added.
He noted that the World Food Program (WFP) has sent 725,000 tons to support humanitarian operations in Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa and Yemen, alleviating hunger in some of the world’s worst-hit regions.
Try to keep the deal alive
Mr. Guterres said he is aware of the obstacles that remain in foreign trade in food products and fertilizers with Russia and that he has written to President Vladimir Putin with a new proposal to keep the Black Sea Initiative alive .
Quoting extensively from the letter, he noted that since the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding, and measures adopted by the Government, Russia’s grain trade has achieved high export volumes and the fertilizer markets have stabilized. on, with Russian exports about to recover.
The letter also outlines UN action to facilitate trade amid sanctions against Russia, such as securing licenses from the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union, and providing explanations and guidance to the private sector.
The Secretary-General’s letter also explains how the UN is working to find “dedicated solutions” across the banking and private sectors, which include the establishment of a “specialized payment mechanism” for the Russian Agricultural Bank outside the SWIFT international banking network.
Moscow highlighted that the bank’s SWIFT access was a key factor influencing its decisions, according to the letter.
Mr. Guterres said he was very disappointed that his proposal was not acted upon.
A continuous effort
Despite lamenting Russia’s decision, the Secretary-General is adamant that he will not stop efforts to get food products and fertilizers from Ukraine and Russia to international markets.
Mr. Guterres said he will remain focused on the goal of improving global food security and global food price stability, “considering the increase in human suffering that will inevitably result from today’s decision .”
Appeal to the President of the Assembly
Responding to the collapse of the landmark deal, the President of the UN General Assembly Csaba Kőrösi repeated his call for the parties to return to dialogue.
“The challenges are complex, they are connected, but they cannot be overcome. It is not too late,” according to the statement issued by his Spokesperson.
Mr. Kőrösi deeply regrets Moscow’s decision to withdraw from the Initiative which he says “provides a lifeline to millions of people who have been hit hard by the global food security crisis caused by the war in Ukraine.”
He also called for an end to the conflict, in accordance with international law and the UN Charter.