UN Secretary-General and Russian President Putin discuss the war in Ukraine

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday about the export of Russian fertilizer through Ukraine’s Black Sea ports to tackle the growing global food crisis threatening multiple famines.

The UN chief said they also discussed security at Europe’s largest nuclear plant, where he said bombing had stopped over the past three days and prisoners of war.

“I think there are still negotiations going on,” he said. “I very much hope that the issue of prisoners of war will be completely resolved, and I very much hope that all prisoners of war will be exchanged on both sides.”

Guterres told a news conference that Putin said that a fact-finding mission he appointed at the request of Russia and Ukraine to investigate the killings in the Olenivka prison in a separatist region of eastern Ukraine on July 29 would be able to go there “any way we choose, This is a very important aspect.” Warring countries accuse each other of carrying out the attack, in which separatist authorities and Russian officials said 53 Ukrainian prisoners of war were killed and 75 wounded.

Guterres said the call with Putin was a follow-up to his meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Lviv on August 18, and regular calls to Zelensky’s chief of staff, Andrei Yermak.

Putin will not attend next week’s annual meeting of world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly, which Guterres said is taking place “at a time of great danger”.

“Our world is full of war, battered by climate chaos, disillusioned with hate, disgraced by poverty, hunger and inequality,” the Secretary-General said.

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Guterres said that the war in Ukraine is not only destroying the country, it is hurting the global economy, and hopes for a peace deal are “little”. “I’d be lying if I said I hope it happens soon,” he added.

Despite a July 22 agreement to start shipping Ukrainian grain from Black Sea ports and delivering Russian food and fertilizer to world markets, Guterres said, “there is a risk of multiple famines this year.”

The Secretary-General said that high fertilizer prices had already reduced the cultivation of food crops and that was why it was so important to increase Russian exports of ammonia – one of the main components of fertilizers – and why talks are taking place about the possibility of shipping through the Black Sea ports that are currently used to ship grain from Ukraine.

UN Trade Coordinator Rebecca Greenspan, who is leading the team trying to facilitate unhindered global access to Russian food and fertilizer, told reporters on Tuesday that Russia had reported a 12% increase in food exports from June to July, but fertilizer exports remained low over the years. Although covered. Convention, with insurance, financing and freight still issues.

Guterres said he discussed the “tragic fertilizer situation” and obstacles to shipping ammonia from Russia with Putin.

“We risk a crisis in the fertilizer market,” the UN Secretary-General said. “We have news from different parts of the world that the cultivated areas are much smaller than in the previous cycle, which means that in 2022 we risk a real food shortage.”

“So removing the obstacles that still exist regarding the export of Russian fertilizers is absolutely necessary at present,” he said.

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The grain deal expires on July 22 in 120 days, and Guterres said a “very important dialogue” is taking place between the United Nations and Russia, and between the United Nations and Ukraine, “and we’re looking not just to preserve the grain deal but to expand it.” One example, he said, might be Shipment of Russian ammonia through the same Black Sea channel as Ukrainian grain.

Greenspan, who chairs the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, said the fertilizers are needed by October and November, the most recent, for the northern hemisphere planting season.

On the issue of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southeast Ukraine, the largest in Europe, the head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog said Monday that he has begun consultations with Ukraine and Russia on his call for a “protection zone for nuclear safety and security” around the facility, and both sides seem interested.

Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said the two sides appeared to be interested.

The proposal was made last week after leading a team of inspectors to the nuclear plant and leaving two of them there to monitor its safety. Russian forces occupied the factory but its Ukrainian employees have run it since the start of the war.

The Zaporizhzhya plant was reconnected to Ukraine’s power grid over the weekend, allowing engineers to shut down the last operating reactor in an effort to avert disaster as fighting raged in the region.

According to his latest information, Guterres said, electricity is being provided to ensure the cooling of the reactors and other necessary electricity.

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“We have now gone three days without bombing,” he said.

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