Unique-Russians, Ukrainians met in UAE to debate prisoner swap, ammonia, sources say By Reuters



© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Ukrainian Ambassador to Turkey Vasyl Bodnar speaks throughout a information convention in Ankara, Turkey February 24, 2022. REUTERS/Cagla Gurdogan

By Aziz El Yaakoubi, Pavel Polityuk and Jonathan Saul

RIYADH (Reuters) – Representatives from Russia and Ukraine met within the United Arab Emirates final week to debate the potential for a prisoner-of-war swap that may be linked to a resumption of Russian ammonia exports, which go to Asia and Africa, by way of a Ukrainian pipeline, three sources with data of the assembly mentioned.

The sources mentioned the talks have been being mediated by the Gulf Arab state and didn’t embrace the United Nations regardless of the U.N.’s central function in negotiating the continued initiative to export agricultural merchandise from three Ukrainian Black Sea ports. Ammonia is used to make fertilizer.

Nonetheless the talks intention to take away remaining obstacles within the initiative prolonged final week and ease international meals shortages by unblocking Ukrainian and Russian exports, they added.

The sources requested to not be named with a view to freely focus on delicate issues.

The Russian and Ukrainian representatives travelled to the UAE capital Abu Dhabi on Nov. 17 the place they mentioned permitting Russia to renew ammonia exports in trade for a prisoner swap that may launch numerous Ukrainian and Russian prisoners, the sources mentioned.

Reuters couldn’t instantly set up what progress was made on the talks.

The Ukrainian ambassador to Turkey, Vasyl Bodnar, instructed Reuters that “releasing our prisoners of conflict is a part of negotiations over opening Russian ammonia exports”, including “In fact we search for methods to try this at any alternative”. Bodnar mentioned he was unaware if a gathering befell within the UAE.

Putin mentioned on Wednesday that Russian officers would work to unblock Russian fertilisers caught in European ports and to renew ammonia exports.

The UAE’s international ministry, Russia and Ukraine’s defence and international ministries didn’t reply to Reuters’ requests for remark.

Requested if the United Nations have been concerned within the talks, a spokesperson for the organisation declined to remark.

The export of Russian ammonia could be by way of an present pipeline to the Black Sea.

The pipeline was designed to pump as much as 2.5 million tonnes of ammonia gasoline per yr from Russia’s Volga area to Ukraine’s Black Sea port of Pivdennyi, often known as Yuzhny in Russian, close to Odesa for onward cargo to worldwide consumers. It was shut down after Russia despatched its troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24.

The export of ammonia was not a part of the renewal of the U.N.-backed grains hall deal that restored industrial delivery from Ukraine.

Final week, Rebeca Grynspan, Secretary-Common of U.N. company UNCTAD, who leads the negotiations on fertiliser, mentioned she was optimistic Russia and Ukraine may conform to the phrases for the export of Russian ammonia by way of the pipeline, with out giving particulars.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has publicly set a number of situations earlier than permitting Russia to renew its ammonia exports by way of the pipeline, together with a prisoner swap and reopening of Mykolaiv port within the Black Sea.

Neither Russia nor Ukraine have launched official figures on what number of prisoners of conflict they’ve taken since Russia invaded in February. On Oct. 29, Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenskiy mentioned that since March, Russia had freed a complete of 1,031 prisoners.

Russia and Ukraine have disclosed few particulars about direct conferences between representatives from the 2 international locations following the abandonment of ceasefire talks within the first few weeks following Moscow’s invasion on February 24.

Abu Dhabi’s efforts comply with within the footsteps of Saudi Arabia, which scored a diplomatic win by securing freedom for international fighters captured in Ukraine in September.

The UAE, like Saudi Arabia, is a member of the OPEC+ oil alliance that features Russia and has additionally maintained good ties with Moscow regardless of Western strain to assist isolate Russia over the invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow calls its “particular army operation”.

UAE President Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan visited Moscow final month the place he mentioned with President Vladimir Putin the potential for Abu Dhabi mediating for an ammonia deal, two of the sources mentioned.

Ukraine is a significant producer of grains and oilseeds. Russia is the world’s largest wheat exporter and a significant provider of fertilisers to international markets.

Since July, Moscow has repeatedly mentioned its shipments of grain and fertilisers, although circuitously focused by sanctions, are constrained as a result of sanctions make it tougher for exporters to course of funds or to acquire vessels and insurance coverage.

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