UN Secretary-General speaks to Putin, pushes Russian fertilizer exports

UN Secretary-General speaks to Putin, pushes Russian fertilizer exports

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres addresses the UN General Assembly during a special session in memory of Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain at the UN Headquarters in New York, USA, September 15, 2022. REUTERS/Mike Segar

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UNITED NATIONS, September 14 (Reuters) – UN chief António Guterres said he spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday about Ukrainian grain exports from the Black Sea and expressed hope that the UN-brokered deal would be maintained and expanded to include Russian ammonia .

“Removing the barriers that still exist regarding Russian fertilizer exports is absolutely essential,” Guterres told reporters shortly after speaking with Putin.

Facilitating the supply of food and fertilizer from Russia is the centerpiece of a package deal brokered by the United Nations and Turkey on July 22, which also resumed supplies of grain and fertilizer from the Black Sea to Ukraine. Russia recently criticized the deal, complaining that its exports continue to be difficult.

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The deal included ammonia, a key ingredient in nitrate fertilizers. A pipeline transporting ammonia from the Russian Volga region to the Ukrainian Black Sea port of Yuzhny was closed when Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.

The United Nations is currently trying to get ammonia exports back on track. read more

“Negotiations are underway regarding the possibility of exporting Russian ammonia through the Black Sea,” Guterres said, adding that there was a “dramatic situation” in the global fertilizer market.

“We risk facing a crisis in the fertilizer market,” he said. “We have news from different parts of the world where the area under crops is much smaller than in the previous cycle, which means that we are at risk of real food shortages in 2022.”

He said that Russian food and fertilizer exports from Russian ports were “far below what is desired and necessary.”

The United States and other countries have stressed that Russian food and fertilizer products are not subject to sanctions imposed in connection with Moscow’s invasion of their neighbors, but Russia claims its exports have had a deterrent effect.

Last week, the United States said it was working with the United Nations to address any complaints from Russia. read more

Despite the success of the food and fertilizer export deal, Guterres said the end of the war was “still a long way off.”

“I believe that peace is necessary – peace in accordance with the UN Charter and international law. But I would be lying if I said that I hope it happens soon,” Guterres said.

Guterres said he also spoke with Putin about prisoners of war, a UN fact-finding mission in connection with the July attack on the Ukrainian frontline town of Olenivka that killed prisoners held by Moscow-backed separatists, and the Russian-held Zaporozhye nuclear power plant. in Ukraine.

He said that there would be no obstacles from Russia to the fact-finding mission heading to Olenevka.

Last week, the UN human rights mission in Ukraine said that Russia does not allow access to prisoners of war and that the United Nations has evidence that some of them were subjected to torture and ill-treatment that could amount to war crimes. read more

“I really hope that all prisoners of war from both sides will be exchanged,” Guterres said.

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Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Rami Ayub and Katherine Evans

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