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25 Jul, 2022 13:15

US comments on ‘Plan B’ for Ukraine grain exports

Last week Kiev, Moscow, the UN, and Turkey signed a deal to unblock exports from Ukrainian ports
US comments on ‘Plan B’ for Ukraine grain exports

Washington and Kiev are working on a ‘Plan B’ for Ukrainian grain exports after a Russian strike on the port city of Odessa, the administrator of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) Samantha Power has said.

“Plan B involves road and rail and river and sending in barges and adjusting the rail systems so that they're better aligned with those in Europe so that the exports can move out more quickly,” Power, who was America’s envoy to the UN between 2013 and 2017, told CNN on Monday.

“We have been living the contingency plan because there’s no way you can trust anything that [Russia’s President] Vladimir Putin says,” she insisted, referring to the Russian attack on Odessa on Saturday.

Despite saying that ‘Plan B’ is safer, the USAID chief acknowledged that there’s actually “no substitute” to Kiev’s grain being shipped by sea, which is “the most efficient way possible.”

Russia struck Odessa, which is a major trade hub in the southwest of Ukraine, a day after the UN and Turkey brokered a deal between Moscow and Kiev to unblock grain exports.

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky described the attack as “barbarism” and insisted “Russian Kalibr missiles destroyed the very possibility of statements” on the need for dialogue and any agreements with Moscow.

However, the Russian military insisted that its missiles destroyed a Ukrainian naval vessel and a warehouse of Harpoon anti-ship missiles, while also crippling a ship repair yard. No civilian infrastructure had been affected, it said.

On Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also rejected claims by Kiev that Russia had targeted grain silos at the port.

The strike on Odessa “had nothing to do with the infrastructure to be used to fulfill the agreements and export grain,” Peskov insisted. “So, this can’t and shouldn’t affect the start of the shipment process in any way.”

The breakthrough deal, which had been reached in Istanbul on Friday, is believed to be a way to avoid a global food crisis. Besides setting out a framework for resuming Ukrainian grain shipments via Black Sea ports, it also included a memorandum providing for the UN’s involvement in lifting international sanctions on the export of Russian food products and fertilizers to world markets.