Latest news on Russia’s war in Ukraine, largest drone assault on Russian territory



A tractor works the field on a private farm in Zhurivka, Kyiv region, Ukraine, Thursday, Aug. 10, 2023.
A tractor works the field on a private farm in Zhurivka, Kyiv region, Ukraine, Thursday, Aug. 10, 2023. Efrem Lukatsky/AP

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says that Russia is ready to return to the Black Sea Grain Initiative as soon as what Moscow claims to be promises become concrete guarantees.

Russia withdrew from the initiative in July, nearly a year after it was brokered by Turkey and the United Nations to guarantee safe passage of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea and help facilitate Russian exports of grain and fertilizer.

Russia has persistently complained that benefits due under the agreement never materialized.

Speaking in Moscow after talks with Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan, Lavrov said that “we conveyed to our Turkish partners our understanding of what needs to be done in the West, first of all, to restore the viability of this initiative.”

“There is still not a single guarantee in this (proposal); there is only a promise to try faster and try more actively, and everything comes down to the fact that the West is hindering the solution of problems that impede more active export of Russian grain and Russian fertilizers,” Lavrov said.

“President (Vladimir) Putin has repeatedly, officially and clearly said that as soon as measures are taken — not on negotiations on the Russian part of the Black Sea package, but measures to solve all those problems that have remained unfulfilled, despite the promises of the UN secretary general, whose efforts we appreciate — but as soon as the talks turn into a concrete decision on the same day, we are ready to resume the Ukrainian part of the grain package,” Lavrov said. 

“I can only confirm that as soon as there are not promises, but guarantees — with a concrete result that can be put into practice tomorrow — the implementation of this package will resume in full,” he added.

The Russian foreign minister said he and Fidan had also discussed Putin’s initiative to organize “deliveries of up to a million tonnes of Russian grain to Turkey at a reduced price for processing at Turkish enterprises and shipment to the most needy countries in the world.” Lavrov said Qatar was prepared to help finance the initiative.

More context on the grain deal: The Black Sea initiative has been significant in stabilizing global food markets since the war started in February last year, particularly for poorer countries relying more heavily on grain supplies from the region.

Before the war, Ukraine was the fifth-largest wheat exporter globally, accounting for 10% of exports, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Ukraine is also among the world’s top three exporters of barley, maize and rapeseed oil, according to Gro Intelligence, an agricultural data firm.

The deal had allowed for the export of almost 33 million metric tons of food through Ukrainian ports, according to UN data.

CNN’s Anna Cooban contributed reporting to this post.


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