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Russia should withdraw its forces in Black Sea, give security guarantees to ports and commercial convoys – MFA.

Russia should withdraw its forces in the sea area around Ukraine and provide security guarantees about non-aggression on ports and commercial convoys, said spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Oleh Nikolenko in response to the statement of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that the Russian Federation is ready to let grain ships into the Mediterranean Sea if Ukraine demines ports.

"Ukraine is working together with its partners on the possibility of creating an international mission, in particular, under the auspices of the UN, which will take over the operation of sea routes for the export of Ukrainian agricultural products. We welcome the preliminary readiness of a number of countries to join the process of restoring security in the Black Sea. As a first step, Russia should withdraw its forces in the sea area around Ukraine and provide security guarantees about non-aggression on ports and commercial convoys," Nikolenko wrote on Facebook on Thursday.

He recalled that by attacking Ukraine, Russia had besieged Ukrainian seaports. The Russian army has mined part of the sea area, is constantly trying to break through the defense of Odesa and other coastal cities from the Black Sea, the Foreign Ministry spokesman added.

"As a result of the Russian blockade, Ukraine has now lost the opportunity to export agricultural products by sea. About 22 million tonnes of grain are stuck in ports and cannot reach end consumers, primarily in Africa and Asia. Alternative ground routes will not completely solve the problem, because they have low throughput. In addition, Russia steals Ukrainian grain in the occupied territories in order to illegally sell it to third countries," Nikolenko said.

According to him, the actions of the Russian Federation can lead to a global food crisis, and in some regions – even to famine.

The spokesperson of the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry stressed that the Russian Federation should immediately unblock Ukrainian seaports, stop shelling Odesa and other coastal cities, withdraw its navy to a distance that will prevent an attack on merchant ships, and not create obstacles to international navigation.

"Ukraine remains committed to finding ways to unblock routes in the Black and Azov Seas in order to prevent a global food crisis. We call on the countries whose food security may suffer the most from Russia's aggression against Ukraine to use their contacts with Moscow to force it to lift the blockade from Ukrainian seaports and stop the war," Nikolenko wrote.

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