This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has called for an extension of the Black Sea grain export deal that has allowed exports from three major Ukrainian ports, easing a global food crisis.
“We maintain the line that the initiative must continue regardless of whether the Russian Federation is willing,” Zelenskiy told U.S. Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who made a one-day visit to Kyiv on November 8.
Zelenskiy emphasized that despite the full-scale Russian invasion, Ukraine is ready to remain the “guarantor of global food security,” a reference to his country’s status as one of the world’s top grain producers.
The grain export accord with Russia, brokered by Turkey and the United Nations in July, expires on November 19. It appeared in jeopardy last month when Moscow briefly suspended its participation.
Kyiv wants the grain export deal expanded to include more ports and other goods, Ukraine’s deputy infrastructure minister told Reuters on November 8. Ukraine also hopes the pact will be renewed for at least a year.
Thomas-Greenfield said global food security depends on extending the grain export deal, and that this is a priority for the UN.
She said she considers Ukraine “the breadbasket of the world” and said the war “really has had an impact on the entire global food market.”
Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Andrey Rudenko, said on November 8 that the Kremlin has not yet decided whether to extend the agreement.
“We still have time. We are looking at how this deal is being implemented following the restoration of our participation,” Rudenko said. “We are very dissatisfied with how the Russian part is being implemented.”
During his meetings with Thomas-Greenfield, Zelenskiy emphasized the need for the United Nations to take a number of immediate steps, including the urgent referral to Ukraine of UN experts to investigate the issue of Iran supplying drones to Russia, his press office said.
Zelenskiy also told Thomas-Greenfield that Ukraine wants the UN to send representatives to assess damage to critical infrastructure in Ukraine and requests the maximum involvement of the UN in the restoration of Ukrainian energy.
He also called for the UN to “limit the membership and privileges” of Russia in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Among other topics reportedly covered in the talks were limiting Russia’s ability to abuse its membership in the UN and launching a special tribunal against Russia.
Thomas-Greenfield tweeted a photo of herself visiting a forensic lab in Kyiv where she said technicians are “meticulously examining war crime evidence to hold Russia accountable.”
She added: “If Russian forces think they are going to get away with their atrocities, they are in for a rude awakening.”
Thomas-Greenfield also announced an additional $25 million to help Ukrainians survive the coming winter.
“Attacks by Russian forces have damaged housing and critical infrastructure across Ukraine,” Thomas-Greenfield said on Twitter. “Today, while in Kyiv, I announced the United States, through @USAID, will provide $25 million in winterization assistance to help vulnerable people in Ukraine survive the winter ahead.”