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Russian foreign minister says there is ‘no obstacle’ to grain deal

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Monday there is “no obstacle” to the implementation of a UN-Türkiye brokered grain export deal between Russia and Ukraine.

His remarks came after Russian missiles struck Ukraine’s key Black Sea port of Odessa on Saturday in an attack that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres “unequivocally” condemned.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said striking a target crucial for grain exports a day after the deal was signed in Istanbul was particularly reprehensible and demonstrated Russia’s total disregard for international law and commitments.

But speaking at a press conference in the Republic of Congo after a meeting with President Denis Sassou N’Guesso, Lavrov said the strikes at Odesa “should not affect” grain exports as they targeted “depots of arms and ammunition supplied to Kyiv by the West.”

“There is no obstacle to the implementation of the agreement of July 22,” he added.

Lavrov insisted that Russia would maintain strikes against Ukrainian military targets, as in the obligations that Russia took on, “nothing would forbid us from continuing the special military operation.”

The top Russian diplomat also accused the West of being responsible for the escalation of the conflict in Ukraine.

Lavrov made his remarks on the second leg of his Africa trip as Russia seeks to strengthen its cooperation in the region in the face of the growing isolation of Moscow by the West due to the war on Ukraine.

He started his visit in Egypt on Sunday before heading to the Republic of Congo and arrived in Uganda late Monday, from where he will head to Ethiopia.

Ukraine’s Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov, who was part of the talks in Istanbul, said Monday that the first grain shipments under the deal were expected to take place this week.

The war in Ukraine has compounded the problem of food insecurity around the world.

Russia and Ukraine account for 30% of the global wheat trade.

The war has disrupted wheat exports, driving wheat prices up by 60% in Africa, the African Development Bank (AfDB) said in April.

Source: AA

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Byron Adonis Mutingwende