‘Never ever believe Russians’ Ukrainian MP rages at Putin’s promises over grain deal

Ukrainian MP rages at Putin’s promises over grain deal

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Oleksiy Honcharenko, the Odessa MP, was measured in his celebrations today regarding the grain deal with Russia, expressing concern that Russia would try to undermine the agreement or take advantage of the demining of the Black Sea. However, he told Sky News that irrespective of Russia’s integrity, Ukraine will use its “military capability” to make sure the enemy forces “respect the deal”. 

Mr Honcharenko was asked by Sky News: “In this instance, do you trust that the Russians are going to stick to the deal to allow grain exports to resume?” 

He responded: “No, and my message to everybody who watches us now is never, ever believe Russians. Never, ever. 

“That is what I can tell you. But I think we are strong enough to make them respect the deal. 

“Without this strength and military capability, this deal would have never happened today.”

Russia and Ukraine signed a landmark deal on Friday to reopen Ukrainian Black Sea ports for grain exports, raising hopes that an international food crisis aggravated by the Russian invasion can be eased.

The accord crowned two months of talks brokered by the United Nations and Turkey, a NATO member that has good relations with both Russia and Ukraine and controls the straits leading into the Black Sea.

Speaking at the signing ceremony in Istanbul, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said the deal opens the way to significant volumes of commercial food exports from three key Ukrainian ports, namely Odessa, Chernomorsk and Yuzhny.

He said: “Today, there is a beacon on the Black Sea. A beacon of hope…, possibility…and relief in a world that needs it more than ever.” 

A blockade of Ukrainian ports by Russia’s Black Sea fleet, trapping tens of millions of tonnes of grain in silos and stranding many ships, has worsened global supply chain bottlenecks and, along with sweeping Western sanctions, stoked galloping inflation in food and energy prices around the world.

Speaking in Istanbul, Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu said Moscow would not seek to take advantage of the de-mining of Ukraine’s ports, which they said was a prerequisite for the safe exportation of the goods. 

He said: “Russia has taken on the obligations that are clearly spelled out in this document. We will not take advantage of the fact that the ports will be cleared and opened.” 

Ukraine’s infrastructure minister Oleksandr Kubrakov also said that Kyiv does not see a risk of Russian ships attacking through Ukrainian ports.

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Senior UN officials said the deal was expected to be fully operational in a few weeks and would restore grain shipments from the three reopened ports to pre-war levels of 5 million tonnes a month.

Safe passage into and out of the ports would be guaranteed in what one official called a “de facto ceasefire” for the ships and facilities covered, they said, although the word “ceasefire” was not in the agreement text.

Though Ukraine has mined nearby offshore areas as part of its defences against Russia’s five-month-old invasion, Ukrainian pilots would guide ships along safe channels in its territorial waters, they said.

Monitored by a Joint Coordination Centre based in Istanbul, the ships would then transit the Black Sea to Turkey’s Bosphorus strait and proceed to world markets, UN officials said.

The overall objective is to help avert famine among tens of millions of people in poorer nations by injecting more wheat, sunflower oil, fertiliser and other products into world markets including for humanitarian needs, partly at lower prices.

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