Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said yesterday that Kiev is prepared to continue exporting grain through the Black Sea, despite Moscow’s announcement that the agreement reached last summer was ending “de facto”.

“Even without Russia, everything must be done to be able to use this corridor (for exports) of the Black Sea. We are not afraid,” Zelensky assured, according to statements posted on Facebook by his spokesman, Serhiy Nikiforov.

In his videotaped evening message, the Ukrainian president added that he had sent “official letters to the President of Turkey (Recep Tayyip) Erdogan and the Secretary-General of the United Nations (António) Guterres to propose to them to continue” the exports.

“Ukraine, the UN and Turkey can jointly ensure the operation of the food corridor and the inspection of ships,” he argued. Russia does not have the right to determine who will have enough food, and the Black Sea initiative could work without Moscow’s involvement, he added.

According to Zelensky, about 33 million tons of agricultural products were exported to 45 countries under the agreement adopted in July 2022 by Ukraine and Russia, brokered by Turkey and the UN.

Russia earlier announced that the deal was ending, citing obstacles to its own food and fertilizer exports due to the sanctions. He also accuses rich countries of profiting from the bulk of Ukrainian exports, which should be sent to developing countries.

Zelensky, for his part, said that 60% of the food was exported to countries in Africa and Asia.

Based on UN data, the three countries that benefited most from Ukrainian exports are China, Spain and Turkey.