The United States demanded that Russia extend the grain agreement with Ukraine

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Olivier Douliery/Pool via REUTERS (POOL/)

The head of US diplomacy, Anthony Blinkendemanded Thursday to Russiaat a G20 meeting, to renew an agreement sponsored by the UN to allow the export of Ukrainian grain, which expires this month.

“Russia has deliberately and systematically slowed down inspections, creating a backlog of ships that could be supplying food to the world today,” Blinken told the group’s foreign ministers meeting in New Delhi.

“It is imperative that the G20 pronounce on the extension and expansion of the grain initiative to strengthen food security for the most vulnerable,” Blinken said.

The grain initiative Black Sea was negotiated with the mediation of the UN and Turkey in July and has eased the spike in food prices that have contributed to hunger in developing countries. This agreement expires this month.

The agreement was renewed in November, but the UN emergency aid coordinator, Martin Griffithshas warned of difficulties in securing a further extension before the pact expires on March 18.

This initiative has allowed the export of about 20 million tons of grain.

The invasion launched by Russia against Ukraine blocked the passage of ships from an area considered a breadbasket of world trade due to concerns expressed by Moscow of possible Ukrainian naval actions.

View of the Comorian flag general cargo ship
View of the Comorian-flagged general cargo ship “Kubrosli Y.” in the seaport of Odessa after resuming the export of grain, Ukraine. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko/File (Valentyn Ogirenko/)

For its part, Ukraine assured that it “survived the hardest winter in its history”, despite the Russian bombings that left millions of people without electricity, a year after Moscow began its illegal invasion.

But on the ground, Ukrainian forces are under pressure in the east of the country, especially in Bakhmut, while Russia claims it repelled a “massive” drone attack in the crimean peninsulaannexed by Moscow in 2014.

We have made it through this winter. It was very difficult and every Ukrainian has experienced this difficulty, but we were able to supply Ukraine with energy and heating”, said the Ukrainian president Volodimir Zelensky.

The head of Ukrainian diplomacy, Dmytro Kulebaassured that his country “has overcome the winter terror.

“We have survived the most difficult winter in our history. It was cold and dark, but we were unwavering,” she said.

According to the Ukrainian calendar, spring begins on march 1.

Ukraine suffered a winter under a long series of Russian missile attacks and explosive drones against civil and energy installations, periodically causing massive cuts of electricity and drinking water.

(With information from AFP)

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