Borrell expects agreement “this week” to unblock Ukrainian grain exports

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The High Representative for Foreign Policy of the European Union, Josep Borrell, has hoped this Monday that the agreement to unblock exports from Ukrainian ports of cereal productions trapped in the country by the Russian invasion will be closed “this week”.

Negotiators from Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and the United Nations announced last week a first understanding on “technical details” and the creation of a coordination center with which to ensure the safety of routes in the Black Sea, but the agreement must be finalized this week.

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“We are doing our best to transport grain by other routes, through the solidarity routes, from Romania, Bulgaria, the Black Sea, but it is not enough. That’s why I hope, and I think there is hope, that this week it will be possible to reach an agreement to unblock Odessa and other Ukrainian ports,” Borrell told reporters in Brussels, where he is attending a meeting of EU foreign ministers.

The head of European diplomacy has warned that on such an agreement “the lives of thousands, more than thousands tens of thousands, of people depend” so he has asked that the talks should not be understood as a “diplomatic game”, but as a matter of “life or death” for many.

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“Russia has to unblock and allow the exploitation of Ukrainian grain or we will have to continue denouncing that it uses food as a weapon, without any consideration for the lives of human beings,” Borrell has reiterated.

Despite what Borrell said, others have been less optimistic, such as the German Minister of Agriculture, Cem Özdemir, who has doubted the chances of success in the Istanbul talks because of Moscow’s lack of credibility in the negotiations.

“Those who still believe in Putin’s word can also believe in Santa Claus or the Easter bunny. This is just as serious and just as based on real facts,” Özdemir said upon his arrival at the meeting in Brussels with the other EU partners.

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