By G9ija

Kyiv said Friday that Ukraine will only sign an agreement with Turkey and the UN to resume grain exports that were disrupted by Moscow’s invasion, excluding any direct deals with Russia.

“Ukraine does not sign any documents with Russia. We will sign an agreement with Turkey and the UN,” presidential aide Mykhaylo Podolyak wrote on Twitter, adding that Russia would be signing a separate “mirror” agreement.

He vowed a Ukrainian “military response” to any “provocations” from Russia and said Moscow’s ships and representatives would not be allowed in Ukrainian ports used for grain exports.

According to Podolyak, any necessary inspections of cargo ships “will be carried out by joint groups” in Turkish waters.

A delegation from Ukraine was in Istanbul Friday with a deal set to be signed to unblock millions of tonnes of grain stuck in Ukrainian ports since Russia invaded on February 24.

“The country’s delegation led by Ukraine’s Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov arrived in Istanbul for negotiations on the resolution of the grain issue,” Ukraine’s infrastructure ministry said on Telegram.

It also posted a photo of the delegates meeting with UN chief Antonio Guterres.

“The Secretary-General once again expressed his support for the unblocking of Ukrainian ports and assured that security is an indisputable priority for the UN,” the ministry said.

Up to 25 million tonnes of wheat and other grain have been blocked in Ukrainian ports by Russian warships and landmines Kyiv has laid to avert a feared amphibious assault.

The blocked exports have sparked a surge in global food prices and raised fears of famine, particularly in the world’s poorest countries.

-AFP