British newspaper: Ukraine suddenly withdrew from Black Sea agreement negotiations at the last moment
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British newspaper: Ukraine suddenly withdrew from Black Sea agreement negotiations at the last moment

(Dan Tri) – British news agency Reuters reported that Russia and Ukraine were almost about to reach a Black Sea agreement when Kiev suddenly withdrew from negotiations.

Cargo ships at Ukraine’s Black Sea port of Odessa in November 2016 (Photo: Reuters).

Reuters cited anonymous sources as saying on April 15 that Russia and Ukraine have almost reached a new maritime transport agreement on the Black Sea in March after two months of negotiations.

The cargo route between the two sides has not had a formal agreement since July 2023, when Moscow first refused to extend the Black Sea Grain Initiative in August 2022 by Türkiye and the United Nations. country as intermediary.

Russia accused the US and EU of failing to keep their commitments in the agreement by blocking Russian food and fertilizer exports.

According to Reuters sources, recent negotiations brokered by Türkiye have led to a tentative agreement to `ensure the safety of commercial shipping in the Black Sea`.

Reuters said Ukraine seemed to have agreed that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan could announce this tentative agreement one day before the March 31 local elections in Türkiye.

`At the last minute, Ukraine suddenly withdrew and the agreement was broken,` the source said.

According to the draft seen by Reuters, Ankara brokered agreements between Moscow and Kiev `on ensuring the free and safe passage of merchant ships in the Black Sea`, in compliance with international conventions.

The guarantees will not apply to `warships, civilian vessels carrying military cargo`, unless agreed by all parties.

According to the draft agreement, both Russia and Ukraine must provide security guarantees to commercial ships in the Black Sea, pledging not to attack, arrest or search them, as long as they are not carrying goods or making declarations.

The reasons for Kiev’s withdrawal are unclear, but Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia of targeting grain export infrastructure in the original deal, thereby putting vulnerable countries at risk.

Earlier this year, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov denied that Moscow had attacked Ukrainian ships in the Black Sea while the initial grain deal was in effect.

One of the reasons why Moscow did not renew the Black Sea Grain Initiative, he said, was that Kiev was suspected of `abusing the shipping route throughout the agreement`.

“The Ukrainians used these free safe passages to launch their weapons in the form of naval drones,” causing damage to Russian ships and ports.

In addition, Russia believes that the agreement only effectively allows commercial grain exports from Ukraine, while Russian grain and fertilizer exports are still blocked by the West.

According to Russia, only 3% of Ukraine’s grain is transported to countries on the list of countries in greatest need of the United Nations World Food Program.

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