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News: Zelenskyy invites PM Abiy to visit Ukraine in historic phone call following Russia’s withdrawal from Black Sea Grain Initiative

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy (Photo: president.gov.ua/)

Addis Abeba – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy held a telephone conversation with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed days after Russia announced its withdrawal from the Black Sea Grain Initiative. President Zelenskyy also extended an invitation to Prime Minister Abiy to visit Ukraine. Ethiopia was one of the eight African countries who abstained from submitting a vote on a UN resolution to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in March 2022.

According to the official website of the President of Ukraine, during the call, the leaders discussed Russia’s unilateral withdrawal from the Black Sea Grain Initiative, the illegal obstruction of maritime traffic, and the attacks on Ukraine’s port and energy infrastructure.

This marked the first-ever phone conversation between Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and President Zelenskyy. Prime Minister Abiy confirmed the conversation on Twitter, stating that they discussed bilateral and international matters of mutual interest, as well as the means of bringing peace between Ukraine and Russia.

President Zelenskyy highlighted that Ukraine had already delivered nearly 300,000 tons of food to Ethiopia under the Black Sea Grain Initiative and an additional 90,000 tons of grain under the Grain from Ukraine Humanitarian Initiative. He reaffirmed Ukraine’s commitment to act as a guarantor of global food security and expressed interest in enhancing bilateral relations with Ethiopia, especially in the areas of security and digitalization.

Moscow’s unilateral withdrawal from a UN deal that previously guaranteed safe passage for grain shipments across the Black Sea occurred on July 17, 2023. Following Russia’s withdrawal, wheat prices on the European stock exchange surged by 8.2% to 253.75 euro per ton on July 19, 2023, compared to the previous day. Before the war, Ukraine and Russia collectively provided over one-quarter of the world’s wheat supply.

The decision by Russia has drawn criticism from some African leaders. The Kenyan government described it as a “stab in the back” for countries facing drought. According to the UN, Ukraine has already shipped 625,000 tons of food as humanitarian aid to countries such as Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen under the grain deal. AS

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